My mother miscarried me a few months into her pregnancy. The amount of blood loss confirmed her Doctor’s suspicions, no more baby. Except, I wasn’t gone. My delighted parents discovered that wonderful news a few weeks later.
Unfortunately, developing systems, deprived of nutrition for a time, did not develop correctly. From birth, my digestive tract started raising a ruckus. Since 90% of our immune systems are in the gut, a malfunctioning one also opens the door to other annoyances like chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.
Throughout my life, I’ve been separated from my herds by health issues. Three hundred third graders enjoyed a week of Bible camp in the Pennsylvania Poconos. I was rushed from the camp to a hospital, with pneumonia, during a gorgeous July. In elementary school, I raised my hand for restroom privileges more than any other kid. In Junior High, I carried all my books all day, so I could use the restroom at every break. Chronic stomach pains became daily companions and made field trips interesting.
In high school and college, I added colon, liver and gall bladder attacks to my repertoire. On my honeymoon, at a marina, I found myself curled up in the fetal position on the cement floor of the lady’s bath house, unable to move. A terrified woman ran from boat to boat until she found my husband.
Thank God, in the last twenty years He steered me towards doctors and homeopaths who understand my unique challenges. I’ve learned much about the best way to keep my engine tuned. In fact, this winter is one of the healthiest I’ve experienced in many. I’ll never forget, though, all the times I’ve missed life, sitting home alone while others enjoy. I also remember many times I directed shows or choreographed large events, and then collapsed with a flu or respiratory illness afterwards, sometimes lasting for months.
I’ve met many folks in leadership who suffer from debilitating, chronic health issues. Like me, only their closest friends and family know their backstory. The expectation on a leader is for strength and virility. We’re loathe to share our situations with too many people for fear we will be perceived as weak or unreliable.
In the quiet aloneness of many years, God educated me about chronic pain and illness and how to cope with their isolating effects.
- Ask and believe for healing. For some reason, I used to think it was presumptuous of me to ask God to be my doctor. What a goofy idea. “You have not because you ask not.” James 4:2 NIV “For I will restore health to you and heal your wounds, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17 NIV
- Healing is usually a process. I’ve experienced a few miraculous healings but most of my restorations have taken time. God simply doesn’t count the way we do. He’s also more interested in my character than my comfort, which is a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
- Consistently operating beyond your energy creates more problems. All leaders need to delegate and share their responsibilities. Be realistic about what you should do and then ask God to send people to partner with you for the rest. A quarterback doesn’t play when his defense is on the field. He rests and prepares for the next time the offensive line is called out. If you insist on playing non-stop in every quarter, you WILL let your team down when they need you. Additionally, you are preventing others from developing their leadership skills.
- Be truthful about your health with a trusted circle of people. Your whole organization doesn’t need to know every detail of all your fights, but you need trusted confidantes and prayer warriors on your team. Having said that, though, the more I pour my heart out to God about the day’s health challenges, the less I feel the need to talk to anyone else. I choose to let prayer partners come alongside me for combined faith power, not sympathy.
- Believe the truth that in our weakness, He is strong. “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I’ve seen God do great things, amazing works, at some of my weakest moments. He and I are the only ones who truly know all the behind the scenes stories of healing and strength He’s given me in the face of daunting tasks.
- Listen for God’s insights about your body. Remember, the Great Physician also created you and He knows what it will take to set you to rights. He will lead you to answers and people with answers, if you listen. Sometimes He’ll remind you of simple things you may forget, like drinking enough H2O each day.
Are you sitting home alone right now due to sickness or pain? Are you plowing through something that simply must be done, barely able to hold your head up? I understand but He understands better. Listen, learn and obey. Rest in the truth that before something touches you it passes through your Father’s hands.
“For, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, NOT to harm you.” Jeremiah 29:11