It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop.
Trying to navigate your calling (or dreams so to speak) in the midst of dealing with a chronic illness is often a perfect storm for tears, hopelessness, and frustration. After all, how can you pursue your deepest desires, when getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, and keeping up with simple daily tasks is difficult if not impossible?
This is a question that has often crossed my heart and mind.
More days than not, I am left in a state of anxiousness over how to achieve my calling in the midst of being so sick. It may sound odd to you that I would use the word anxious to describe how I feel, but let me explain.
Prior to becoming incredibly ill in the Winter of 2015, I was living a dream I had pursued for most of my life. I was engaged to the love of my life, I was flying to Los Angeles once a month as a songwriter, licensing music I’ve written and co-written for commercials and organizations, and I was finally making money doing the thing I feel I was born to do: write.
And then my world was turned upside down.
I was mentally and physically incapable of doing much at all. My neurological symptoms from my particular chronic illness left me with memory loss, and I had difficulty formulating sentences, let alone writing, recording, mixing, and mastering my music. I gained an immense amount of weight due to my body’s inflamed, sick state. This left me feeling inauthentic to the brand I created and very insecure. Besides these symptoms, I was battling severe fatigue, depression, and a list of 30+ symptoms no doctor could help me with (read the full story here).
And so, in a matter of months, my dreams were dashed.
All momentum in my music stopped, and my hope failed.
BUT, at the core of my being, I know that there is hope.
Even in the midst of me feeling as though I’ve lost everything, I haven’t. I still have breath in my lungs, I still have life, even it looks differently than it once did. Since my decline, diagnosis, and six months of treatment, I have learned a few things about calling and chronic illness. Here are some of my thoughts:
- It is ok to let go of what you once thought your calling was. This will be painful. Allow yourself to experience this pain. You must go through this loss, and even mourn what you were once so attached to.
- This doesn’t mean everything you once held dear cannot happen. It may look differently than you thought, and that is ok.
- This simply means that as you surrender to reality, you will make room for what your calling can become. Ultimately you will allow yourself the ability to dream again if you let go.
- Once you let go, you have the ability to redefine purpose and dream again.
- Maybe you decide to turn your chronic illness into a platform to help others.
- Maybe you redefine what matters to you. After all, facing illness can be an incredible opportunity to adjust your priorities. Maybe relationships were on the back burner and this is a way for you to live according to what really matters this life.
- Stop beating yourself up.
- Every time you get frustrated that you can’t do what you once could, or that you aren’t making progress in the things your heart desires, pause, and give yourself grace.
- Stop and breathe, reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can. Take life a day at a time.
So, put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward.
Even if it is slow.
The fog will clear and you will begin to see clearly.
I am still very much on my journey. I have gone through most of what I talked about above, and I am constantly working through emotions that come up on this journey. I encourage you to do the same. Do not shy away from these things.
I’m not sure what my calling will look like, but I am confident I am on Earth for a purpose. I intend to take this trial of chronic illness, and make a difference in the world around me. I intend to take the talent I was given and use it to the best of my ability. It will look differently than I expected, but I have accepted that, and I am excited for it.
If you take one thing from this today, please take this:
Grace is a theme you will see often in my writings. After all, this is Trial and Grace! But truly, when dealing with chronic illness, or truly just in living life, we NEED grace. We must learn to have unconditional grace for ourselves. Without this, we will only breed self-loathing, anxiousness, and countless other stresses on our bodies, minds, and souls.