The Importance of Having a Purpose When You're Chronically Ill
Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself
Hi. When I first began coming to the realization I had a chronic illness (as opposed to a temporary sickness), I was defensive of my condition, and was determined to prove to everybody that I wasn't sickly, that I was going to get better, and if you didn't believe me (or I didn't believe that you believed me), I was even more stubborn in my stance.
That attitude didn't help me any, though. I felt guilty for being snippy with family and friends who love me and who were genuinely trying to help. That isn't the way I was raised or the way God would want me to behave. I wasn't blatantly nasty, I just wasn't as pleasant as I should have been sometimes. I'd like to blame my declining health, but in the end I know I am responsible for my actions, regardless of the circumstances. So are you. We all are. That's where it gets tough.
My name is Diana Majors, and I have a chronic illness that, this year, made my health such that I am unable to go to work or have the "normal" life I've been accustomed to. That doesn't mean my life stinks; it's just gotten more difficult.
I was depressed, crying nearly every day and trying to hide it from my husband and family so they would think I was still being brave even though I could see only darkness and uncertainty, not only in my future, but in my present. But of course, my depression was evident to all, I just didn't know it yet.
I was struggling with becoming completely hopeless, losing sense of passing time since I was forced to stay indoors much of the time due to my dizziness and imbalance problems combined with the cardiac issues that continued to worsen. I felt I missed the winter and then the spring, and much of the summer passed without its missing me.
I didn't have a purpose or a reason to get out of the bed at any particular time. I only had to be up and about to eat lunch with my husband who came home daily on his lunch hour to spend it with me, and to show me that I mattered to him and that he cherishes me. That was the beginning....
I Found a Purpose!
Please notice that I didn't say I had found "the" purpose, but "a" purpose. I'm talking about something that I could use to keep busy, try to earn some kind of income, as well as making me feel "normal" again.
I had spent literally months looking for online jobs, small tasks I could do from home with my limitations, but could find nothing. It was depressing looking in all the online sites for jobs, only to find out I didn't qualify, didn't meet all the standards, or for whatever reason, I wasn't "enough" for that position. It made not having a "real" job even worse! Phooey!
One evening, after searching for months, I found something online I could do from home that I wouldn't have to leave my home to do. Selling jewelry online as a direct sales jewelry consultant was a great idea, wasn't it? I researched the company, asked another consultant a lot of questions, and then I took the plunge and signed up. Whew!! Of course, at the time I was dealing with insomnia too, so when I finally made my decision, it was in the middle of the night and I couldn't tell anyone! Before he left for work that morning, my husband kissed me before he left as is his habit, and the first words out of my sleepy mouth was, "I'm going to sell jewelry!" before falling to sleep again. I found a purpose! And I felt alive again!
3 Reasons It's So Important to Have a Purpose
There are so many advantages to having a sense of purpose that I don't think I could ever cover them all. But I'll look at the three reasons that helped me and I hope it helps you, too.
To Minimize Hopelessness
First, having a purpose, a sense of beautiful duty, is good for your mental health by minimizing the feeling of hopelessness. Hopelessness is a big word, one that bears down heavily on one's shoulders, brows, and the corners of your mouth. I felt so many burdens on me that no one had made my responsibility to carry, the most massive one being the changes in my family's dynamics that my illness had necessitated. I can see in hindsight that the changes weren't harmful, but at the time I felt everything that might have been going wrong was all my fault. I was the sick one, the one who couldn't go to work anymore every day, and the one who couldn't get out on the weekends and do fun activities anymore. I hadn't done anything to cause the changes in my health, but the doctors couldn't find answers any better than I could. What was I going to do?
I would dare say many who experience chronic illness also experience hopelessness. To me, it's different from depression but is akin to it. When I decided to sell jewelry, I would be able to make people smile by a small thing I could do. I know it sounds crazy, but when you've been cooped up in the house for six months, your perspective changes a little on a lot of things!
By selling jewelry, I could help someone to smile because of the items I sold them. All I've ever wanted to do is to help someone and to make a daily difference in someone's life. It's my purpose.
A second benefit of having a purpose is to reduce the feelings of depression. Depression can take such a toll on our minds and our bodies. I've already admitted to tearful outbursts nearly every day, but I also began wanting to avoid other people so they couldn't see the emotional pain I was in. My physical body wasn't hurting, but I was in mourning for my way of life, my health, and for my missing purpose. Depression is real. Anyone who says otherwise just hasn't experienced it.
The day I decided to become a consultant, I got out of the bed, showered, ate my breakfast, and was ready to begin the day early, even though I'd only slept a few hours. I had a purpose! I had something meaningful to do, and I was excited to get started with it!
Granted, the depression didn't magically disappear, but I was learning a way to deal with it. I found a way to channel my depression and hopelessness, and to turn it into something that isn't about me. I wanted my life to be about others, and not about myself. That's what I've been called to do; to help other people is what I should be doing!
Help to Regain a Sense of Normality
Normality may seem a far stretch from what you may have been expecting, but I would dare so it's something very important to we "spoonies" (those dealing with chronic illness). We were "normal" once, and would like to be able to participate in life just like everyone else. We quickly grow tired of sitting on the sidelines watching life happen to other people, but not to us. Don't get me wrong. We rejoice in the joys of our family and friends, and we cry in the sorrows of the same with them. Sometimes it seems we are peering through a window, always watching, but not really "being" there.
However, when you find your sense of purpose, you're no longer looking out a glass window, but the door of your sanctuary, the place where you stay because it's safe, is opened, and you're joyfully able to experience life again! Sure, you may experience it from a wheelchair instead of in your hiking boots, but the sun feels the same on your face and the wind blowing in your hair gives you wings!
I'm not looking to get rich quick selling jewelry. That's not why I started doing it anyway. A little income is nice, but even better is the sense of purpose in my life again. I get to feel "normal" in my world that is anything but normal. It's becoming our new normal, and my family and friends are okay with that. Loving those close to you and realizing your purpose isn't about being normal, but knowing that your perspective has changed and you can still enjoy your life!
Seek and Save the Lost
Jesus, my Savior, the One I try to imitate, had a purpose. I fail every day to do as He did, but I keep on trying. His purpose in coming to this world was "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
When I was hopeless and depressed, I was lost and unable to find my way. I started praying more and began reading my Bible more, focusing on the book of Psalms, searching for a salve for my emotional wounds. In searching for the answers in the Book, I found them. Jesus helped to heal my spirit, and He can heal yours, too. After all, that is His purpose.
He sought us out! We are of worth to the God of all, the Creator! We have value to Him!
My husband helped me one night at my lowest point by reminding me that all the physical problems are temporary. God is eternal, and as Christians, we will be with Him eternally, where my health issues will all be forgotten. He reminded me that God loves me, really truly loves me. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
What Is Your Purpose?
My purpose is to be a Christian example and to be a good wife and stepmom, in that order.
What is your purpose? It's different for every person, in every stage of our lives. What are your interests? Write them down if you need to; there is no shame in that. Finding your purpose is so important. It doesn't have to be life-changing, as long as it gets you through the day and helps you better your mind for the next day. If you're dealing with chronic illness, I'm right there with you. Find your purpose so you can let go of the hopelessness and depression, and you will find you will be able to experience life again! Your spirits will be lifted!
Of course, I would encourage you to seek God and pray to Him, believing He will hear your cry. "For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:8). What beautiful, reassuring words spoken by Jesus himself!
Go and find your purpose!
"Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step." --Naeem Calloway
So, now that you're on your road to finding your purpose... Need some jewelry? :-)
"No Tears in Heaven" song
What Are Your Thoughts?
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Do you struggle with your purpose? If you have already found your purpose, what is it? I can't wait to hear from you!
© 2017 Diana Majors