Courage in Autoimmunity
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Life with autoimmunity is challenging; the diagnosis feels devastating at first, and then discouragement and fear quickly begin to set in if we let it. Sometimes it is a repeating cycle, especially when multiple diagnoses are involved over an extended period of time or “unknown cause” is the diagnosis.
We feel like we are being tossed about in a stormy sea, slowly drowning in the waves of painful symptoms, feeling misunderstood by family and friends at times, maybe feeling like we don’t even recognize or understand ourselves anymore.
Yet we always have a choice in how we will view and use our obstacles and challenges. We can flail about anxiously in the waves, giving into fear and worry, wearing ourselves out further, or we can choose to trust that God is working FOR us in all that is happening FOR us.
To do the latter certainly takes COURAGE.
What is courage? Is it absence of fear? Heck, no! Fear is a reaction, courage is a DECISION. Courage is taking action, choosing to take the higher path even when the emotion of fear is still there.
In living with autoimmunity, it might look something like this: 1) taking specific steps to help you feel your best by optimizing your diet, exercise, lifestyle, sleep, stress management, mindset work; 2) giving yourself grace for the times you don’t always stick to your plans; 3) choosing to focus on what you are grateful for, not what you fear; 4) choosing to trust that God has got this and will lead you along the way if you let Him.
Although I’ve learned to mostly feel peace with my autoimmunity (praise God for the pain relief from the AIP diet and the help I’ve received along the way from holistic practitioners, prayer warriors and friends, etc.), I’m finding that learning to live with COURAGE in more than just autoimmunity is my next big challenge — a call upon my life that I need to apply in all areas, not just my autoimmune issues.
For example, being the mother to a child with oppositional defiant disorder previously frequently challenged my ability to choose courage over fear.
It was all too easy for me to follow my well-worn path of feeling hopeless, beaten down, sad, angry, fearful for my son’s future, resentful, and utterly discouraged when his behavior worsened.
Instead, I continually need to remind myself to face these situations with courage, choosing to focus on being a faithful mother by loving him unconditionally and with compassion, not taking his disrespectful behavior personally, and by setting firm and loving boundaries.
I can do no good to myself, him, our family, or the world at large by finding my mental “home” in a negative state.
God didn’t promise any of us an easy life, but He does promise to be with us every step of the way if we are obedient to his call upon our lives, courageous in our thoughts and actions, and trust that through our challenges He will lead us and others to Him.
When you look back on your life one day when your time here on Earth is over, will you feel proud of the way you lived with autoimmunity? Will you see someone who chose to fight through the fear, even if at first or many times you gave in?
Did you get back up when the fear beat your down? Did you eventually decide, “No more, I CHOOSE to overcome my fear with COURAGE in autoimmunity?”
To choose to trust that our autoimmunity is here to help us grow closer to God and to become who we are meant to be takes courage. Let’s rise to the challenge and be STRONG and COURAGEOUS women with autoimmunity, on fire to know and please the Lord!
How has autoimmunity sparked your courage to grow? For which people in your life do you most want to demonstrate courage? How do you feel your example will change their lives? Comment below!