Stars in the Night: Seeing God’s Grace in a Long Illness

There have been bucketfuls of grace, but often it’s a little moment that has made me realize how my life has been better because I’ve been sick. I won’t remember them all, but here are a few of the ways I have seen God’s grace in the last few years:

Easy Does It: A theme I see is that slowing down allows me to enjoy life in ways I wouldn’t have steaming ahead at my normal pace

  • I used to be a brisk walker. Now I’m super slow–like, toddler pace; and that’s actually a good thing when you have a toddler.  I don’t get frustrated that they are so slow because we walk the same speed.
  • I’ve become more patient for all the times the boys want to poke at things or stop to check out a crack in the pavement or climb on top of the red balls in front of Target.  Because we get through days moment-by-moment we’re not rushing from one thing to the next.  It’s okay to stop, to observe, to enjoy.
  • I’m often available to read stories or play a game.  When I was too sick even that was hard.  By now, I often need to rest, but I feel well enough to spend time with the boys. We have a special bond because we spend so much time together.
  • I’ve let go of a lot of perfectionism.  I would have to sit and think for a long time to think of anything in my housekeeping that is kept to my standard. I’ve learned that it’s okay. It bothers me sometimes, but it’s okay. We can live happily like this.
  • I used to be so capable and so independent that I thought it would be easier to be a wife if I’d be naturally more dependent. :) Well, I got my wish.  I neeeeed him. :) Poor guy–maybe more than it is nice to be needed.  It is kind of true, though; it’s a little easier to be a sweet-little-wifey (is it safe to write this on a blog where it can be so mis-interpreted?) when I am weak and he is always the strong tower.
  • I’ve learned that God is enough.  Uh, let’s change that to am learning. It’s hard to say, “I want to be healthy, but I don’t need to be healthy.” It’s hard to trust that God is good even if He doesn’t heal me in my lifetime, but it is true.  I do believe it.  I still need reminders to open my hands–to loosen my grip on my health.  This thing that I somehow feel is in my control if I hold onto it tightly enough.  Hello, I can’t, but it’s still hard to release it completely.
  • I’ve learned that it’s okay to be still.  I grew up in a culture where keeping your hands busy was a virtue.  For awhile it made me feel useless to be still when there were things all around me that could be done.  Now I’m learning to enjoy the quietness of simply being.  We don’t need to be going full tilt all the time–in fact, I don’t think that’s a healthy model.  It’s good for our minds and bodies to have a rest.
  • My current culture is one of sitting on the front-porch. It’s a place where people walk to get to places. If I wouldn’t be sick I imagine I would be zipping here and there in my green minivan taking my children to educational events, serving, and being involved in all kinds of things.  I believe that having my life slowed to a crawl has helped me to understand the pulse of my neighborhood in ways I would have missed if I was always in a hurry. I’m more likely to walk to the [in the words of someone from my neighborhood] seedy park across the railroad track than driving off to a nicer park where I can hang out with people who make me feel comfortable.  We are more present.

Appreciating Small, Imperfect Gifts

  • The smallest gift is a .big.deal. to me.  One time someone offered to carry a blanket upstairs for me and I cried a few tears because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude.  The same thing has happened when someone fed my child at a public event.
  • At one time I might have been bummed if someone accidentally bleached my favorite table cloth with the towels.  Now I’m just glad the laundry got done. (I totally made that up because I can’t think of any real examples, but you get the drift)
  • Our children have learned to play independently, clean up after themselves, and carry responsibility.

God’s grace has become so evident to me.

  • When Paxton turned out to be an angel baby for the first year, I knew it was God’s grace.
  • During the summer when I was feeling better I booked a wedding for September. That month I hit a slump and didn’t know how I was going to be strong enough to photograph the entire day.  People were praying for me so much that week.  The day before the wedding I was incredibly shaky and I was concerned about producing blurry pictures!  The day of the wedding I woke up feeling stronger than I had in weeks and felt great all day!  I felt so undeserving–wasn’t I irresponsible to book a wedding before I was quite ready?  Well, maybe, but that is grace–undeserved favor.
  • Sometimes I need a quiet rest desperately and the boys play  and play without a single disagreement. Those are times when again I feel God putting His hand on my forehead and saying, “There. There. I’m taking care of you.”
  • Just today Zachary said, “I LOVE sweeping the living room especially with my big helper[the vacuum].” Our vacuum cleaner is huge and heavy and it wears me out.  Our living room is the room where all the dirt gets dragged through, and seeing it swept is a sanity-saver.  Today when he swept I thanked God for His grace in the form of a boy who loves sweeping.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

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21 thoughts on “Stars in the Night: Seeing God’s Grace in a Long Illness”

  1. oh, my friend.. i knew you had not been well, but i really didn’t know to what extent! the lessons and insights you expressed here are so deep and genuine and i found myself feeling teary eyed and {almost} wishing to be sick – just to experience the sweetness of God like you share!

    reminds me of amy carmichael and all she was able to minister to from her bed.. through years of so much pain and sickness! i never understand why God chooses to have some go through health problems. it seems one of the greatest trials to face – the frustration of just wanting to be NORMAL and do what you once did!! but then i read this.. and i know, it truly is in our weaknesses He is most glorified. i’ve been pointed to HIM through this post!!

    will be praying for you. for you to gain strength and not relapse. much love~

  2. I had totally composed a reply in my head to this, and forgot to share it with you. :)

    I love the part about being present. That is totally my hearts desire, but something i do so poorly at. I imagine when you are well, that you’ll zip around the city doing fun things with your boys. . . sometimes. I also imagine that this being present stuff is gonna stick. I have hope that this could be your story someday. And while it’s not your story, I pray you can continue to embrace the gifts in these days.

  3. Christy, I’m sorry things are flaring for you again. It is a difficult thing to go from being independent to needing others so much. But like you said, it gives us a whole different outlook on life and I’m glad for that. One of the amazing things about heaven is that we will finally be able to understand why things happened the way they did here on earth. I think that will be a marvelous day!

    God didn’t promise
    days without pain,
    laughter without sorrow,
    or sun without rain,

    but He did promise
    strength for the day,
    comfort for the tears,
    and light for the way.

    If God brings you to it,
    He will bring you through it.
    – unknown

    Blessings to you and hang in there!
    -andrea

  4. I love your heart of gratitude. I’m sure somedays gratitude isn’t what your feeling but like you said, it’s God’s grace that saturates our souls when we are living up to expectations or feel like we can’t make it. I want to be more grateful and see God working in my life when my expectations aren’t meet or when I feel like I can’t go on… I loved reading your lists

    1. Yes, you’re so right that gratitude isn’t what I feel every day or what my family sees all the time. But, wow, it sure makes a difference when I try to focus on it. Bless Ann Voscamp for helping us see that, right? :)

  5. What can I say Christy… you know how much I “get” the not feeling good…. I have tears running down my face….. especially the part where you said that the boys played nicely and it was like Jesus saying, “there, There, I’m taking care of you”. Yes, He’s so good like that. And I get the good little wifey thing. :) Don’t worry. :) Yes, it’s good to be weak; I have learned to NEED Jason in ways that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been sick! It has drawn us so much closer! And yes, my house too… I’ve learned to let so much go…. learned that good memories can be made even if things don’t look perfect. In fact we all enjoy more if Mom isn’t so stressed about perfection… You have written so well girl! Good job!

    1. I’m so glad for friends like you who really get it, help me know I’m not inventing or exaggerating this, and who give me hope that it will get better.

  6. What a moving post. I love to see you trusting and accepting. PS.When you said “sweet-little-wifey” I totally had that, hope I get to meet this lady someday feeling.

  7. Really love this Christy! Praying too you’ll be able to be well again, but you’re gaining much wisdom through this! I can learn a lot from you!

  8. Christy, you bless me this morning. That whole thing of living with imperfection, and housekeeping not measuring up to standards.. I so get that. And I have my health, it’s just that home schooling, new baby, eight children in the house… it all adds up. But my goal is to be okay with the mess and just have fun with my children. These days of having them all here at home still under my wings are so fleeting. Anyway, thanks for sharing how God is taking care of you in the midst of the tough times. You are the third person in two days to share how He’s met them and blessed them in a time of trial, and it lifts my heart. I love it when you post!

  9. Christy, you truly inspire me…I just think it’s so amazing how you can see the gifts from God and HIS grace during this time. I got a lump in my throat… love u dear.

  10. It’s so hard to want to/feel like you should be/need to be doing MORE and in fact, you just can’t.
    I appreciate you sharing with us about this. And I hope and pray you get all the rest you need and that He continues to care for you in such sweet, meaningful ways!

  11. I’m all teary after reading this… To be able to see the good, and ultimately, to see GOD, in the things of life that we really don’t want? Wow…
    This really makes me miss you, and I would love some hours of catching up with you again!! xo

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