There it was again. That look. A person walking towards you innocently glances your way as they pass by. But then you see that very subtle little double-take, their eyes lingering on you just a bit too long to be natural. Or comfortable.
I know those looks. I know what they mean. They see it. They see the pain, they see the indescribable weariness, they see the pallor.
Yep, they see my Lupus.
“Invisible illnesses” – like Lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, diabetes, depression, and even cancer (to name just a few) – are underhanded little cowards that sneak in and silently invade our bodies, slowly draining us from the inside, yet leaving us essentially unscathed on the outside.
The challenge in living like this is that people often judge your degree of illness (or wellness) by how you may look on a particular day. Honestly, we all do that, don’t we? We look at something (or someone) and draw conclusions based solely on outward appearances.
But, as we all know, how something looks definitely doesn’t tell the whole story. Outside appearances can lie. Just ask my three friends: Visine, Maybelline, and Redken – they’ve told many a whopper for me over the years.
In spite of all that, I actually see the invisibility of Lupus as a mixed blessing.
Even though it can feel terribly isolating when people don’t understand what you’re going through because they can’t actually see anything wrong, I also don’t want to look as bad as I feel.
I’ve always liked to look my best – even before I got sick. That’s just who I am. Even now – I want to put my best self out there because I believe it makes me feel better to do that.
Besides, I want people to see ME, not my struggles.
Basically, I just want to look normal.
I want to live normal.
And, really, I just want to be normal.
Yesterday, though, I was definitely not normal. Yesterday I struggled. So weak. Weary. Queasy. My head screamed. My joints groaned in their twisting pains.
Regardless, a few important errands still needed to be tackled because the world very rudely insists on continuing to spin no matter what – and it doesn’t care whether Debi’s having a puny day or not.
So, I fixed myself up a bit and headed out the door, determined to muscle through for at least a little while. Last stop was the grocery store for just a few things, and that was when they started.
I knew that people could see it.
The weariness, the pain.
I happened to walk past a mirror and I realized that no amount of makeup could erase the look of strain in my eyes that day. I was having a sick day and I needed to just accept it and go back home.
I spent the rest of yesterday back home in my recliner, staring outside at my little view.
Anytime I look at this corner of my garden, I love what I see because I personally chose, placed, and nurture everything out there, yet I also hate it sometimes because I have to sit and stare at it so often. And I’ll admit … there’s usually a little pity party going on when I do. Not good.
But yesterday, as I watched everything, I made myself remember to be thankful, not only for this lovely little view, but also for the looks I had gotten that day while I was out.
Even though they may feel like a “you’re different from everybody else” slap in the face sometimes, those looks also remind me that God has set me apart and given me something very special to deal with.
And he wants me to use it to encourage you, my friends.
No matter what we’ve been given to deal with in life (and you know we’ve all been given something), God doesn’t want us to pretend it’s not there.
He doesn’t want us to try to be normal.
Or to even try to look normal.
He wants us to trust him.
No matter what.
He wants us to believe that he loves us, and that he always, always gives us what’s best. Even when it hurts. It’s all for our ultimate good, and his magnificent glory. Remember that.
He also wants us to be still and listen. Just listen. Even when we don’t want to. Especially when we don’t want to. His still, small voice only whispers truth. Listen closely for it and don’t believe the lies of Satan.
We don’t need to be like everybody else. We don’t need to fake strength when we don’t feel it. We just simply need to rest in his.
Thanks so much for growing with me.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” (Psalm 25:1)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)