As I look at my life and I think about all that is has held, I have noticed that I have had many different seasons. Seasons where life is slow and sluggish and feels like I am never going to move past where I am; then there are others that are bold and bright and busy, and fly by. When I think about the different seasons in my life, I think about a lot of different things such as: what my age was, what big life events were going at the time, how my illness was impacting me, and each season is so drastically different. This surprises me because I imaged I would see repetition, but it doesn’t seem that way. Having a full schedule made me feel so FULL, accomplished, and successful, but where do you go from there, when you don’t have that busy, full schedule anymore? Is life over? Do you not matter as much? Are you less than?
It may feel that way, but it’s not true. When I look at all these different seasons I have had, I think I tend to mark them by how my health was doing, but more specifically my life has one big defining point. That point is when I started experiencing symptoms and was diagnosed. It’s almost as if my life is split into two parts: before diagnosis and after diagnosis. So much changes.
I believe the hardest part is finding a new normal. A friend of mine said it this way, “my new 100% is probably going to be what I used to consider 70% or less.” Another hard part of this adjustment is that we have an able-bodied mindset in a now disabled body. In the beginning, I fought that new normal SO hard, and long story short, I failed. A lot.
Which led me to feeling like I didn’t know what to do so I decided I wouldn’t do anything. So now, I not only lose my full schedule, I lost the art of simply living.
For most, if not all of us, our schedules dictate our lives. When I became ill, I didn’t look at what I could do and what I did have, I only focused on what I couldn’t do or didn’t have. This drove me to a place of ultimate discontentment and ungratefulness.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that you don’t need a full schedule to live a full life.
A new normal does not mean that God has thrown away His plan for you. A new normal does not mean that you are less than anyone else. A new normal has made you who you are today.
When I started living a life on the truth that: I could live a full life right now in this broken bod- even on days I wish I could return it. I started focusing on what I had and what I can still do.
With this broken body:
- I can still live and lead an intentional, meaningful life
- I can still worship Jesus in all I do (even if all I do is take care of my body)
- I can still love my people well
- I can cherish time with my family
- I can cultivate new and old meaningful friendships
- I can grow and bloom right now
Sometimes when we life a more quiet, repetitious life (healthy or not) we feel that God isn’t there. Well friend, I have some news for you.
God doesn’t just flourish in the big things- He thrives in the small, mundane, and repetitious things too.
Although, this way of thinking does not mean that everything is great, your attitude becomes perfect, and life easily adjusts. You are allowed to be exactly where you are. If you are angry and cursing God- you are allowed to be there. If you are in a season of wait and disappointment- you are allowed to be there. If you are blooming and content with your new normal- you are allowed to be there.If you are grieving a life that could not be- you are allowed to be there. See what I am getting at? You are allowed to right where you are no matter where you are. All that matters is that you invite God into wherever you are.
People sometimes like to assume that I am positive all the time or that I have adjusted easily, and that’s just not true. Everyday I am figuring out my new normal, and each day I lay it at God’s feet and say, “Lord, Guide my day even if it’s different than what I have in mind. Help me learn how to best maintain my body today, and help me understand my new normal better.”
This prayer has been said when my cheeks hurt from smiling to where my tears are streaming down my face. Again, all that matters is that you invite God into wherever you are. I promise He will show up to your invitation.
Now say it with me,
You don’t need a full schedule to live a full life!!
Cassie Nolin is a married spoonie who lives the chronic illness life with EDS + Co. (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it’s comorbid conditions.) She challenges others to choose grace over guilt in goal setting, and is in ministry part time serving the online community through The Spoonie Study. She loves planting, hand lettering, and sharing the hope she has found in Jesus. Her blog, Living the Chronic Illness Life, is in the top 100 chronic illness blogs and her podcast, Chronically Cultivating, is produced by Speaking to the Heart Network. Cassie encourages women to live authentic and intentional lives through their diagnosis’ not in spite of them. You can learn more about her at www.livingthechronicillnesslife.com
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