Okay, I know you are wondering about that title. But I am raising 3 boys, ages 14, 12 and 10 so they are constantly providing me with inspiration, in all sense of the word. I absolutely adore my boys. They are wonderful young men who love the Lord and they love their Mom. I am blessed. BUT, they are boys. So therefore, I live in a houseful of males who do the typical male “things” like burp and pass gas and then laugh hysterically. They are also never shy about sharing the need to advertise a bathroom visit and when they need to go. I will admit that on some days I have to give in to the humor and add my own comments. (Hey, I also grew up with two brothers, so I’m definitely used to the gross stuff). So anyway, today was one of those days. The boys and I were joking around about something and they were really picking on me so I laughingly told them “Oh you guys are full of poop”. Well they roll right on with the comebacks and one of them said, “you know, you’re right about that MOTHER” (I know it’s going to be good when I hear “Mother” instead of “Mama”). But do I just keep my mouth shut? Nope! I asked him THE question: “Why”? So he proceeds to tell me about his need to go to the bathroom ALL day and he thinks it’s just going to start coming out everywhere. SO GROSS! Then he asked me, since I’m a nurse, “Well, what would your diagnosis for that one be”? Without a thought, I answered “potty mouth”! For some reason, this was also hysterical to them but of course, it got me thinking (no, not about poop) but about the things that do come out of our mouths. (I’m talking words here so don’t think I’m that gross). Of course, that is what most people think of when they think about “potty mouth”-usually when our kids say a “bad” word, etc. But honestly anything negative or hurtful could be considered potty mouth. After all, what’s really the difference? When we say things to others that hurt them what does that say about us? The Bible tells us that what comes out of our mouths is really just the overflow from our hearts. (HUGE difference from what my son said, right)? But what a fitting example. If you have things in your heart that are not so pleasant, you tend to spread that around with little things called words. But those words sometimes have more power than Duke Energy. A few harshly spoken, bitter words can tear down a person like nothing else can. On the flip side, you can also build up a person with sincere encouraging words or just a tiny compliment. It means so much more than people realize when we use our “potty mouths” or when we choose to have goodness in our hearts so that it “overflows from our mouth”. What does this have to do with chronic illness? Quite a lot. Everybody needs kind words and encouragement but I’ve found that when you have a chronic illness and each day is different and often a struggle, those kind, encouraging words turn into motivators for us. Sometimes I can be having a really crappy day (no pun intended) and a “potty mouth” can bring me down even lower than I already was. Especially for people who don’t understand it. They say things like “oh, just deal with it” or “it must be nice to be able to nap during the day”, etc. Do I really want to be in this situation? Did I choose to have a condition that took me from being an on the go, always busy, there for everybody type of person and turned me into the exact opposite? Of course not! But people have a hard time relating to things they don’t understand I guess. That’s why I truly want to change the way people look at chronic illness and those affected by it. Because, believe me, it’s not just the sick person who suffers. It’s their entire family. But I’ll save that for another day. But you know what? I’ve found people in my life who know the value of those encouraging words and they pick me up when I’m having a bad day. Sometimes, it’s those words that are lifesavers to me, better than anything modern medicine can provide. So, if you have a chronic illness, or if you don’t, surround yourself with the encouragers, not the “potty mouths”. It will eventually rub off on you and you will find yourself encouraging others, too. Just think what the world would be like if we all did that? One of the best ways to get yourself past potty mouth and to that place of encouragement is through Jesus Christ. If He reigns over your heart, then you know good things are going to spill from your mouth and affect those around you. And if you do find yourself in a potty mouth kind of mood, do what I told my son to do today: Get yourself to that bathroom and get rid of the gross stuff clogging up your body, or in this case, your heart. In other words, get on your knees and cry out to the One who will always encourage and uplift you and can cure that potty mouth quicker than any laxative 🙂
So based on the response from my first post, it seems like maybe I should keep doing this. (Actually, I’m pretty stubborn, I would keep doing it no matter what kind of response I got but it’s so nice to hear from so many people telling me positive things about it)! But another thing that was so glaringly evident to me is that pretty much everybody who gave me their opinion could relate to what I said-whether they had a chronic illness or not! I’ve really thought about this and come to the conclusion that we are a hurting world and that everybody has some type of “chronic illness” that they deal with. Obviously, as a daughter of Christ, I believe that the chronic illness is sin. We are a sinful, prideful world and we ALL need Jesus. But there’s so much more than that going on. Each of us has our own pain or hurt that we are dealing with. Now I don’t mean that we are all “woe is me” people, I just mean that we can all relate to each other in some way. It might be because people judge you for any number of reasons. Or it might be because of a situation or crisis that you are going through at the moment. Or maybe it’s an addict who wants to stop whatever it is that has control over them but they are afraid. Whatever the reason, IT DOESN’T MATTER! You are still in pain and you want to feel better. If you suffer from a chronic illness then you know exactly where I’m coming from. Each day you wake up not sure what you will be facing that day. Maybe it’s a good day and you feel like you can totally do this! Maybe it’s a great day and you accomplish things that you wondered if you would ever be able to do again. But eventually, that “bad” day comes. You wake up and you just know that even getting out of bed will be your greatest achievement of the day (and sometimes you can’t even get out of bed). If you are like me, you feel so guilty because of the things you can’t do anymore. It’s like you crash and you wonder why in the world you have to go through this. It’s hard to be grateful on those days because I tend to focus on what I’ve lost instead of focusing on the positive things. It seems like, on those horrible days, there is no hope. But, my friends, let me tell you this. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this journey is to never lose hope. I will know that I have truly given up when I am totally hopeless. So, even on those days when I don’t have the energy to move, much less do anything else, my mind is still going strong. And I tell myself: “You are not without hope”! And it is on these days that Jesus shows me how much worse it could be. I hear of tragedies so unthinkable to me that I wonder what right I have to even complain, much less question “Why me”. It’s more like “why not me”? After all, it could be so much worse than it is. So on those days my biggest accomplishment is to turn to my Heavenly Father. I can never be without hope because I know that He is watching over me. He knows this is a bad day for me. He knew it a long time ago. If fact, He’s just waiting on ME to call out to him. And He doesn’t care if I come to him with joy in my heart or sadness or even anger. He just wants me to come to Him period. Then He will do the rest. He is my hope. That doesn’t mean He will fix it all and take away all my pain and illness. But He will get me through that moment. And you know what? That moment turns into an hour and those hours turn into a day. He gives me the hope I need for that moment. And he doesn’t just do that for people with chronic illnesses. He does that for ANYBODY in pain. You just have to bring it to Him. It doesn’t matter if you are crawling and don’t think you will get there or if you are just weary and moving slow, He is there waiting. And He won’t give up on you so please don’t give up on Him. Take that hurt you have and give it to your Heavenly Father because He says that He will bear that burden for you. Trust me, I know this to be true. I have made that “crawl” and that “weary walk” to Him more times than I can count. I’ve even stumbled and fell on the way there and He came and met me where I was. And you know what else? Not one time has He failed to be there for me with His arms wide open! He’s just waiting for you, too. Take that first step and begin the greatest journey of your life-with Him!
So here it is, my very first attempt at blogging. I’ve loved to write all my life, even won a state writing award once. My favorite class in college (besides my nursing courses) was a writing class that I took. So you would think that I would’ve kept it up. But, like a lot of things I “used” to do, it got put to the side. My husband has been encouraging me to write now for a while, but I guess I had nothing to say until now (that’s a joke-if you know me then you know that’s not an issue for me).
Deciding what to write about though has been my problem. I just didn’t feel “led” to go in a certain direction and I wanted something specific to focus on. I LOVE reading blogs that other people write and I thought, “Why can’t I just do this, too”? But after my whole life got turned upside down in April, 2005, and hasn’t been the same since-what to write about now is one of my easiest decisions. Also, my wonderful, amazing sister (well, she’s really my sister-in-law but that’s just a technicality) just published her first book that started from a blog that she had written a while back. It tells her “story”. It is a story of pain, sadness, hope, renewal and joy. So while I will share a lot of my “story” with you, I’ve decided to focus on Chronic Illness. Some might say that is my story now, because that’s what I face daily. But I’ve learned that it is only because I took my eyes off the One who is the ultimate author of my story and zoomed in on that one particular area. Anybody who suffers from a chronic illness (or illnesses) can attest to how hard it is to NOT concentrate on that constantly. I probably won’t share my entire story in one blog (unless you want to read for hours, lol) but I had this thought that popped into my head a few days ago and it won’t leave me alone so I knew that this must be my starting point. That’s where the name of this particular blog came from, “I Call that One”.
My husband and my 3 boys play this game in the car all the time. They try to find the coolest or priciest cars and “call them”. Sometimes that’s the only conversation in our car. But they pick out the Porches, Camaros, Mustangs, etc (never BMW convertibles, which is my favorite, because it’s an “old lady car” J). This game eventually trickled down to their friends who would be in the car with us and now it is almost like a rite of passage to ride with us-you have to name the cars. In fact, it had gotten so competitive, everybody started calling out almost any kind of car you can think of (except for the old clunkers of course). Even police cars and firetrucks were called out. I had to pull rank on them eventually and tell them to go back to the original form of the game because half the time I don’t think they even looked closely for the “good” ones anymore.
So on Monday morning on the way home from carpool, I was thinking about this game, because of course I had 5 kids calling out cars the entire time. Why, I wondered, was it so very easy to pick out the “fancy”, high priced cars (and really anything that looked “new”). Sure, they don’t get a kick out of calling out the clunkers, but they don’t look good enough. But a car is a car. Even the Porsche we pass one second might go on down the road and have some kind of engine problem and totally break down. However, they are none the wiser because all they see is the outside-a nice, gorgeous, shiny car that they think will run forever. How very much, I thought, is that similar to the way others look at those of us who suffer from some form of a chronic illness. A chronic illness can be anything at all-a long term condition that the person has to live with daily. It’s often called the “Invisible Illness” because no one sees it. But that’s only from the outside. Someone might have cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, even high blood pressure that affects them all the time. But just because you don’t “look” the part of someone who is sick, people don’t think that there is anything wrong. It’s a common assumption that just because you look okay on the outside that you must feel great on the inside. That is so far from how it really is. With women, a little makeup and styling your hair goes a long way into turning you into that Porsche that looks great on the outside but what they don’t realize is that eventually, (and it’s usually at home with family or alone), that the engine messes up and you totally get stopped in your tracks. Sure, the outside still looks good, but underneath the “hood”, there are all sorts of bad things going on. And you don’t want to tell anyone because what would that do to your reputation as being “the cool car”? So you sit it out on the sidelines and nobody says “I Call that One” because who wants a car that doesn’t run right?
Thank goodness there is One who will always want us, no matter how we look on the outside or the inside for that matter. He meets us where we are and he pursues us until we put all of our faith in Him and trust Him to be that “Great Mechanic”. I know that’s a crazy term for Jesus Christ, but He did promise to be what we needed. Does that mean that He is going to completely fix everything that is wrong? Nope. Sometimes the thing that is wrong can’t be fixed but merely repaired or tuned up so to speak. He also promises never to leave us or forsake us. And He doesn’t. He’s always there beside you in the passenger seat. Sometimes it’s just hard to see through the smoke coming through the car from the engine. That’s when we have to trust and take that hand that is reaching out for us through the smoke and just be still and let Him handle the problem. And He will handle it. It might not always be the way we want or fast enough for us, but I promise you this: He won’t trade you in for a newer, better model. He takes what you already have and He lovingly cares for it until you can start up again and move on, even if it’s just for that day. One day, we will all have the perfect “cars” that my boys and my husband call out all the time. We just have to give our hearts to Him and let Him guide us. Trust me, He will. On the days when all I feel like is the old clunker nobody wants and I feel like I’m totally on my last few miles, I know that my Heavenly Father is looking down, reaching for my hand and saying “I Call that One”.