LIVING WITH AN "INVISIBLE ILLNESS" by Mary Hastings written May 2003 While from the outside I may seem normal, It’s the part that you can’t see, The constant pain and struggles within, Are ever so apparent to me. Although I may wear a smile, Often times it's covering the tears, Yet not tears because of sadness, As it often may appear. Don’t be too quick to judge though, Because there is so much more than is known, What may seem to look like one thing, Just might turn to prove so wrong. I may sometimes seem unfriendly, Or too centered around self, Because sometimes standing takes all I’ve got, And there is just no energy left. Sometimes my words may sound awkward, My communication may not always convey, My true inner thoughts and feelings, Aren’t always expressed by what I say. You may think that I’m not really listening, Sometimes my face or speech may not show, But I do hear every word you say, I really want you to know. The information doesn’t always process, As quickly and as clear, And sometimes it takes me longer, To interpret what I hear. I possibly miss many opportunities, To offer needed love or support, Because sometimes it just takes to long, For my thoughts and words to sort. So if my actions seem inappropriate, In the things I say or do, I hope that you can understand, That it is not because of you. There are times I get discouraged, When forced to accept my inability-- It’s hard to admit my limitations, And it leaves me feeling so guilty. Yet every moment is a reminder As I look all around, The effort it takes just to get through the day, Just picking my feet up off the ground. I am not looking to find pity, I am just attempting to explain, That the person that you may often see, And the real me aren’t exactly the same. You may not see the peace and joy, When you look upon my face, But I know that each day I live, Is because of God’s amazing grace. It is hard to always be cheerful, When the pain is so very real, And not everyone can comprehend, The extend of how I feel. I don’t see it as all bad though, Although I’d much rather it not be so, But I know that if I must endure, God will strengthen me as I go. It may seem as if I take no pride In the way that I look or dress, However, there might be much more going on, Inside of the big mess. My home may not be nice and neat, My bed not always made, The laundry may not all be done, And often it makes me ashamed. But I must only do what I am able, Each day I have to choose, What is most important right then, And the tasks I am able to lose. All the plans and dreams I once held, Now don’t seem quite so clear, Yet I feel a peace within, As my Lord keeps drawing me near. To have a chronic illness, Or a disability that one must bear, Somehow puts life into perspective, And helps to make us more aware. I realize now that each day I live, Is a gift from God above, It is hard not to lean on Him, Or to look to His great love. I now can fully understand, On my own, there is nothing I can do, It is only be faith and prayer, That I can make it through. It may seem an exaggeration, No one can always feel so bad, But only those who have walked in these shoes, Can appreciate the battles that I have had. I see so many people less fortunate than me, Don’t have to look very far, There are so many suffering all around, It doesn’t matter who you are. Circumstances and illnesses can hit unexpectedly, And you can never really be prepared, It may be difficult to understand, Leaving you vulnerable and feeling scared. I must constantly guard my thoughts and mind, As Satan always tries to bring me down, He wants me to feel hopeless and unworthy, And turn my smile into a frown. It is hard not to get depressed, When I see the burden my family must bare, The fact I cannot always meet their needs, No one could be more aware. There are times I feel like giving up, When I look too far ahead, But I know if my loved ones were given the choice, They would just choose to have me here instead. There are so many ups and downs, New challenges each day, I must strive to keep my eyes on God, So that I be not led astray. It would be so difficult to cope, Without God, my hope would all be gone, Because through submitting to Him in prayer, Is when my weaknesses are made strong. So when you see the way I look, When my insecurities are in view, Base who I am on what’s inside, Not by the things that I can do. The greatest lesson that I have ever learned, Is the reason that I am here on earth, Is not to live for self and gain, For in these things are not my worth. God has a purpose for my life, Although the details I may not see, He still has it under control, And is continually watching over me. Maybe one day I will be well, And my health He will restore, But if that is not in God’s will, I will still praise Him ever more. If this suffering can bring honor to Him, I will gladly accept the call, Because of His great love for me, He suffered and gave His all. I have to believe that what I am going through now, Will somehow work together for good, And one day it will be revealed, And all things will be understood. While I still worry about what you think, More the example that I may show, I am learning so much more each day, And this has really helped me to grow.