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Excerpt: A Husband, A Wife, and An Illness (from section II, by Jamey Lacy-July)

Hope: Antidote to Hopelessness and Key to Recovery 

It is the worst place to be but one that almost everyone who has ever dealt with chronic illness has been–that place where we feel void of hope. So where do we find hope in a place that seems empty of this life-changing energy? Hope can come from many places, and often from a source that we least expect.  No matter what, keep the flame of hope alive. The following list has proven helpful for me and my family as well as for some of the people we’ve met who are coping with chronic illness:

 

> Assist List–Enlist others, such as friends, family, church members, or volunteers at medical support groups or area hospitals, to help in your journey as you continue to seek professional medical help. Breakthroughs in treatments for both traditional and nontraditional diseases are being made all the time. For instance, one of the conditions I have been diagnosed with recently had no known name or support organization seven years ago. But because we were open about my condition and symptoms (and the struggles that we were going through in searching for answers and possible treatments) with friends and family who were close to us, we had a network of “eyes and ears” working on our behalf. Subsequently, our reverend, and his wife, saw a news report that featured some individuals who had the exact same symptoms and health problems that I was suffering from, and they phoned us that night to tell us about the program. We soon learned that a support organization had been founded several years earlier that had more than 10,000 individuals registered, who apparently shared the same condition. In the last year, three different medical experts in three different states have begun researching this disease for possible treatments and cures.  The more people you know who are trustworthy, who are aware of your condition, the more possibilities there are that someone may come across something that will help in your treatment. It also is comforting to know that there are people who care about your quest for recovery and are consciously and graciously onboard with that process.

  > Gratitude for Gifts – Sometimes, just focusing on a few things from my mental list of blessings, or gifts that I have to be thankful for, helps to change my outlook. This takes focus and fortitude when we are struggling in those darkest moments, but there’s always SOMETHING to be thankful for and when we recognize this it can lift our spirits.

 > Favor – A few years ago, I was fortunate to hear a wonderful message by Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House Ministry (www.thepottershouse.org), who defined favor as looking back on better times and drawing on those memories as a tool to get us through the drought. This helps us to keep our vision and believe that things will once again be better at some time in the future. When I step out of my current physical and mental state, I can look back on the wonderful times I’ve had with my husband, family, and friends. Sharing their company has provided me with precious memories. Raising my daughter and watching her grow into a lovely young woman has also given me that all important reflection of “favor.” Thinking about the many opportunities I’ve had to help others through writing and speaking, and coaching clients in improving their health and physical condition, also lifts my spirit. When I recall my past work with students through interactive workshops that encouraged them to embrace their unique identity and gifts, I am infused with hope again. I can also draw strength from believing that the future will bring relief, improvement, and even miracles for healing and renewal. Christian author, Philip Yancey, refers to this as “future faith” in his book, Reaching for the Invisible God (Zondervan 2001). 

 > Outside Sources of Inspiration – Seek to meet and get to know others who have made it through a similar health challenge. This may be a friend or acquaintance or someone you’ve met through a support group. Read stories and scriptures, and watch documentaries or true-to-life movies of other people experiencing miraculous breakthroughs and healing. As I make the final editing changes on this section of the book, CNN is airing a tribute to honor a handful of everyday Heroes. Many of these individuals have overcome unimaginable challenges to help others or to improve conditions in the world. Their stories remind me that Grace and healing can flow through virtually anyone and any circumstance.

 > Creativity – Creating or using our Divine Gifts and talents can give us renewed purpose, and hope, and invigorate our souls and bodies. You may love gardening and watching things grow. If your condition prevents you from getting outside frequently, bring some hanging plants or small potted flowers or herbs indoors. Living plants are also natural air filters so your physical senses can benefit, as well as your mind and soul. If music is your forte, have a portable keyboard or smaller instrument to play to ignite your inner light. Drawing or painting is another way to express yourself creatively without a lot of physical exertion. On stronger health days I love to get in the kitchen and cook or bake something. As part of my work, I taught workshops on cooking and baking “clean” (healthier versions of our favorite foods). So, when I cook, or bake with organic and natural ingredients I am buoyed by the fact that my family will enjoy what I’ve made and be nourished as well. Take special precautions to maximize your energy when choosing creative outlets. For instance, when I’m in the kitchen, I use a high stool with castor rollers, so I can work at the counter without causing undue stress on my back or legs. As mentioned before, writing or journaling is a good way to express yourself, and helps to work through issues at the same time.  If you are good with tools, you may find solace in repairing small things around the house. There are so many possibilities for tapping into your creative nature–let it be an invigorating part of your healing experience. 

 > Rid, Recycle, and Renew – In between the more critical moments of flare-ups with symptoms and pain, try to get rid of one thing each week if possible, that you are no longer using. Those items that have gathered dust, stopped working, or, are just no longer useful in your present life should be removed. Giving away or recycling items signifies the vital message to yourself, your family and loved ones, and to Our Divine Creator, that you are not living in the past or being impeded by clutter. Likewise, at least once per month, replace something that is worn out or no longer works efficiently in your life. This can be anything from a lamp to a worn-out pair of shoes. By signifying that you are consistently renewing things in your life and keeping things around you in good working order, you also remain mindful of your own physical, mental, and spiritual renewal.  

> Seeking Peace and Realizing (God) Love – Knowing that the Divine forces of Love are actually within our bodies and minds at all times can be life-saving in the midst of the critical or most difficult times of illness.  When Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5), He meant that He would be available through the Spirit to all He knew then (especially the poor, afflicted, socially outcast and so on), and to all who would come after Him, in the centuries to follow. It has taken some years for me to begin to understand this Truth: no matter what I’m going through, no matter how intolerable or unbearable the pain and suffering may seem, even in that very moment, I am loved, and I have love in my heart for my precious Sacred Father-Mother Creator and for many peoplethose in my life at the present and for those who were blessings in my past, for their loving energy continues to reside in my heart forever. Whenever I can quiet my soul just long enough to grab hold of this amazing Truth, that Love is within me and all around me even in the midst of what seems like utter chaos, then Peace prevails over my situation and that opens the door to the miracles of overcoming illness and ultimately, healing.