A life with debilitating chronic illness can be isolating.
I know this firsthand.
If you’re reading this post, you may also understand the isolation that comes when chronic illness keeps you from living what many would consider a “normal life.”
At some points, I could barely leave my apartment once a week. My boyfriend would come by with groceries or supper to help get me through the time until I had enough strength to make it out again. Occasionally, another friend would stop by to visit or bring a meal.
I had interaction, but it wasn’t often.
Long weeks of being alone can take a toll on a person.
The thing is, it’s not just the loneliness that was bad. When you add together chronic pain and symptom flares, the inability to leave home, and others’ misunderstanding about your condition, it can be hard to want to keep going.
If you’ve ever felt this way, I am so sorry. I want you to know that you are not alone.
What I’ve learned is even though there are times when I have anxiety, brain fog, and just can’t handle being with people, I actually do need people to help get me through the tough times. That’s how God created us. He created us to live in community and to help carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
The enemy tries to tell me that I need to be all alone. That I can’t connect with people because I’m a burden or because I’m too needy.
But the truth is, we need people. Not just because we’re sick, but because we’re human.
God created us for connection with Him and with other people. Even before the Fall of Man, God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so He created woman. God designed Adam and Eve to have fellowship together and with Him.
Because they were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), there were certain plans and purposes God had in mind for Adam and Eve. Since we are also image-bearers, He has plans and purposes to use our lives to glorify Him (Isaiah 25:1). This all comes out of his deep, deep love (1 John 4:10).
I sure love the way God created us.
It’s also cool to me how the connection we have with each other can be used for comfort because God first provides the comfort we need. Once we have received from God, we can go minister to other people.
Paul writes about this very truth to the Church at Corinth:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)
I love this!
Connection is powerful. God uses it for good!
On a practical level, connection when you have a chronic illness may still be different for you than it is for other people. It might mean getting out of the house once a week to see a friend or it could mean having others stop by to see you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the right kind of connection, and personalities also contribute to what we need.
I’ve learned through this rough season of chronic illness that I need to keep connection a priority because it does make me feel better. Some days that looks like a few text messages back and forth with a friend who understands my pain. Other days it looks like going to church. Often it means just being friendly when I see people out in the community. The connection – the human interaction – is good for us (even when it sometimes feels like it’s not!).
If you’re looking for more connection and support on your journey with chronic illness, please know that you don’t have to do it alone! Grab your free copy of my eBook, Finding Hope Through the Fog, and join our email community of hope!