Quiet Time while Dealing with the Emotions of Chronic Illness
I recently went on vacation. My husband and I had looked forward to it all year as we had not seen some of his family in seven years! It was a wonderful time of bonding and a restful break for us both. Soon after we returned home that excitement and refreshment quickly turned to discouragement. Yet again, I was having a symptom flare-up due to my hormone imbalance diseases and other chronic illnesses. Even the simple act of a vacation, however restful it may be, can throw hormone levels off and wreak havoc.
At first, I found myself feeling very discouraged. My levels and hormones had been balanced for over seven months, which has been the longest stretch of health in over three years. How could a simple vacation throw it all off?
This was my chance. This was the fork in the road. Would I choose to capture my thoughts and feelings to the obedience of Christ? Or would I choose despair, discouragement, and hopelessness?
I have spent over five years learning how to control my emotions while having my body fight against me. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But, hard as it is, it is possible to be self-controlled because of Jesus!
If you battle chronic illness and the emotional rollercoaster illness often brings, I pray you gain some encouragement and hope through some of the lessons I’ve had to learn. It has been a long journey for me to learn how to keep God first when my imbalanced, hormonal emotions fight for the throne in my life. But God has been faithful to lovingly and patiently teach me, and He’ll do the same for you.
In the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy.
Long before I was ever diagnosed, I struggled with terrible anxiety and depression. Now understanding that my hormones were in chaos and I was not, in fact, crazy, my emotions make much more sense to me. But back then, I didn’t even want to live anymore. In desperation, I begged God to help me. The first lesson God taught me was before I even knew my body was sick was
“Because of You, I know the path of life, as I taste the fullness of joy in Your presence. At Your right side I experience divine pleasure forevermore!”
As I forced myself, in desperation, to spend time with God, I learned that in His presence was FULLNESS of JOY. Not the fleeting emotion of happiness; but rather the fruit and promise of the Spirit in JOY! The more time I spent in desperation and tears before Him, the more His presence and Spirit met me there and I found unexplainable Joy.
The Word is Truth, and my emotions will always lie.
As I began to learn how to control my emotions in my newfound reality of chronic illness, the simple concept that my emotions are not reality gave me so much freedom and breakthrough! I’ll say it again… MY EMOTIONS ARE NOT REALITY!
While emotions can certainly be a tool to alert us subconsciously to things we haven’t reasoned out, they are often fleeting, complicated, and even downright deceiving. This is especially when imbalanced hormones are involved. I began to weigh every emotion against the truth of God’s Word. As I persisted in capturing my emotions to the obedience of Christ, I found it became much easier to dismiss the displaced emotions and cling to the truth and authority of the Word.
The practice of clinging to God’s Word in response to chaotic emotions is only possible when we invest the time to know the Bible. This is why it is so important to read, study and memorize God’s Word!
Think outward rather than inward in times of despair.
When my emotions are attempting to control me, the best practice I’ve implemented is to surround myself with godly, life-giving Believers, and focus on serving others! I get outside of myself. When I am surrounded by other Christians who are deep in their relationship with Jesus it motivates me. When I serve others it makes my feelings less important to me. In no time at all, I start feeling excited, encouraged, and hopeful again!
The accountability, wisdom, and encouragement of other Christians are vitally important when we are trying to navigate emotions that are chronically unhealthy. “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, Bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV
Create an arsenal of Scripture verses that will declare the Truth in moments of chaos. Write them out! Memorize them!
- Take small steps to capture your emotions… Instead of saying “I’m depressed”, say something like, “I feel depressed, but I know the truth is that there is fullness of joy waiting for me in God’s presence”.
- Find a few people you can trust, and ask them to help you maintain a sound mind. And be humble enough to take their correction when they offer it.
- Don’t forsake Quiet Time just because you don’t feel like it. You won’t feel like it most of the time. That’s okay. Do it anyway. It will pay off.