Monday, April 10, 2006

A Delicate Balance

I belong to a listserve for patients who have Sjogren's Syndrome. One of the new members blamed the fact that she was self-less on why she has symptoms. She notices that her family members who are self-centered seem to be symptom free. She was struggling between being jealous of them, and wondering if she should have said "no" more to doing stuff for others. I wrote back and said it is a delicate balance-we should be a little bit of both-not because we have Sjogren's Syndrome, but just because we live. Here is what I wrote:

I think I take care of myself, know my limitations, AND care for others in such a way that no one would EVER think to call me self-centered. My whole life is built on what I can do to glorify God, and minister to others He brings in my path. I believe God has allowed me to deal with the trials in my life (I didn't say He caused them) because He knew I would have the opportunity to use that experience to help others in their time of need. My illnesses and other trials have equipped me to have better insights and even practical wisdom to help others.

I think by keeping my eyes off of self, and on God and others, I have a better balanced perspective on life. I have a life filled with hope rather than despair. I look forward to each day. Yes, that day will come with symptoms, but it also comes with gift-wrapped packages of joy everywhere I look.

BUT-I also know how to make boundaries and not over commit or allow myself to be used by others. I draw the line at what I know I can do and do not try to attempt more than that. Some days I'll do more, some days I'll bite off more than I can chew, and some days I'll do less. But I'm in control of that choice-not motivated by guilt or comparisons.

I feel deeply. I live life fully. I don't give in to my illness. It does not define me. But it is a part of who I am because it has educated and equipped me. In fact, I can't imagine my life without it.

My quality of life is even better because of it, in the sense that I have a better perspective than before.

We are in charge of our own lives and bodies. We make the choices. What will we do with our time? How will I get the medical help I need? Do I want to choose that treatment or try something else? Do I need a nap right now, or should I read a book or call a friend in need? If I have more energy and less pain, how can I best use that time? Should I do housework, other chores, take a walk outdoors, go grocery shopping, volunteer somewhere, or encourage a friend?

We should be stewards-meaning we take care of what has been entrusted to us-our very own lives. We should not waste that time, but neither should we abuse it by ignoring symptoms.

It is a delicate balance, as one writer has said!

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