Friday, September 30, 2011

Healthy Transparency

I struggle with transparency when it comes to my health.  I'm sure that might be a surprise when you read my blog because I talk about it a lot and basically puke out a ton of details.  But in real life I'm more likely to not say anything when I'm struggling.  An incident this morning really made me think about that.  I had thoracentesis yesterday and when I was relating the incident someone said, "Dawn I had no idea you were so ill."  The statement made me cringe.  And later, as I thought some more about it I cringed again for a totally different reason.   I want to be clear, her motives were pure sweetness.  She was expressing love and concern for me so I don't have a problem with her AT ALL.  

Reason number one that I cringed.  I don't want to be defined as ill.  That definition makes me feel weak.  It makes me feel like I am an illness rather than a person with a chronic health condition.  See, I even did it there.  I have a "chronic health condition" not an illness.  Hmm.  So what's my issue?  I don't look at other people who are ill and think they're weak. (unless they're whiny)  I wasn't ever treated differently as a kid by my parents because of my health issues.  I wasn't coddled or told to buck up.  It was just something they walked through with me.  So why does this bug me so much?  Why do I hate it when people ask me how I'm feeling or basically give me any extra attention because of my health?  I really don't know.

Maybe the real answer comes in the second reason I cringed.  As I thought about the conversation later I felt...are you ready for this...PROUD.  Yep, I was proud that she didn't know because that meant that I handled my stuff with strength and grace and stoicism.  And that made me sick.  (not ill, but nauseated at how messed up my thoughts can be)  Why did I make this into a measuring rod that tells me how well I handle my challenges?  Why did I feel like I was winning some unspecified competition by my ability to hide my chronic illness.  

I never want to be the person that people want to escape from at parties.  The one who goes on and on about health issues and whines and complains and seeks attention and sympathy.  I really think that's an ok goal.  However, God has brought me through a lot of crap and continues to do so on a daily basis.  Every time I hide it, I hide the amazing testimony of His love, His strength, His healing, His grace in my life.  That makes me want to cry because I know I couldn't make it through one second of this on my own.  But every time I hide my struggles so that I appear strong, that's exactly what I'm trying to say.  I'm good on my own.  I've got this.  

Ask my husband, my kids, my best friends and they'll tell you that I so don't have this.  I'm so NOT good on my own.  What I want is to come to a place of healthy transparency.  The kind that doesn't make you avoid me at parties because I won't shut up about my latest procedure.  The kind that also doesn't make you want to tell everyone what a hero I am because I'm so strong as I deal with my challenges while I smile humbly in the background.  I want my life, my story to be that yeah, I deal with some crap and God gets me through it every time. I want to be honest but undramatic about what I'm facing.  I want to ask for prayer without feeling stupid because I'm asking for prayer AGAIN.  I want my story to be that I would be a mess of anxiety and pain if I didn't cling to the One who knows exactly what is going on and holds my future in His hands.  I want to live and laugh and love as I honestly deal with the challenges life brings my way.  

Do you ever feel this way?  Like you're hiding what God's doing in your life and you can't figure out why?  Pray with me as I work to be transparent in a healthy way so that God gets all of the glory he deserves.  


Karla Renfro* said...

L.O.V.E. this post! So true...All of it was so solid and relatable in a different way to my own heart and story.

- K

Anonymous said...

Seriously !!! I could write this EXACT same thing for my health condition. People tell me just to talk about it which i do, but i don't want to be that person...The ILL person that people try and avoid. You wrote this post beautifully. You are an amazing woman and are an inspiration to me and to many others. I love you Dawn.

Kathy Knapp said...

I never knew any of this was going on with you Dawn. Whenever I have been around you all I felt was the joy of the Lord you had in your heart. I am ashamed that I was always into my own "stuff" that I never connected to what you were going through. You really are an amazing woman! It is so clear to me that this burden you bear, while not what the Lord would choose for you, is something that He uses you for to bring glory to Him. While having this terrible illness, you still serve Him and bring honor to His name. Even through all you go through on a daily basis, what the average person sees in you is a loving, caring person serving the Lord of her life in any way she can! You have been my devine appointment today. Thank you. I will keep you in my prayers. Love, Kathy

Carol said...

Whenever I think of you, Dawn, I think of you as the life of the party and bearer of the best foods! I WISH I could be at a party with you and hear EVERY detail! Regardless of what you say, you are STRONG girl - and yet, let people love you! And help you! You've given others so much (inconceivable, really, how much) so put on the others' shoes and let them give you some comfort, whatever or however they can. I'm sending you a warm hug and I'll be praying for you. Thank you for your bravery in choosing to share it all in writing! Brilliant.