I have been kicked out of my patient support group. Here’s the story: Several months ago, I joined a support group for glaucoma patients online. Other than my father, I don’t personally know any other glaucoma patients. I certainly don’t know any end-stage glaucoma patients. I don’t know anyone close to my age with major vision loss. I enjoyed being able to interact with others like me online, and I hope I was able to be an encouragement to some.
Recently though, a strange thing happened. One evening, I was chatting with others in the group, exchanging stories. When I woke up the next morning, I reached for my phone while drinking my morning coffee, to check for any new comments or posts. My patient support group had vanished. It wasn’t listed under my Facebook groups and it didn’t come up no matter how many times I searched. It was as if I had been blocked, but I hadn’t posted anything offensive (I promise). As I pondered this, I had a strong suspicion that this was from God. I believe that He literally kicked me out of my support group. Why? To teach me to live as a survivor instead of a patient. I had encountered a lot of hopelessness in the patient group, and I had been struggling with feeling hopeless myself since I had to stop driving a few months back. The group had served a purpose for a time, but now it had come time to step into a new season.
I realize now that I can live from the 80% or from the 20%. That is, I can live under the burden of knowing that 80% of my vision is gone, or I can live focused on the blessing of still having the 20%. When I am living as a patient, I am focusing on my loss.
I can focus on the “dis” in disability (a Latin prefix meaning “apart, asunder, away, or having a privative, negative or reversing force”). I can live each day focusing on what is missing. Experience has taught me that this is no way to live. Instead, I can make the daily choice to live life in such a way that I focus on putting the ability in disability!
I can live out of the prognosis, or out of the hope of God’s promises. I can count down the birthdays until the age when the doctors say the light will be put out. Or I can receive each day as a gift, choosing to see everything as a miracle.
Live out of the pain or out of the joy. Both are present. We must choose to put down the pain and take up the joy.
Don’t miss the joy, friends!
I realize now that living like a patient puts a strain on my relationships, because when we see ourselves as a patient, we expect those around us to see us as one too. But really, maybe they just want to love us as they always have, and see us as Mom or Helen or daughter, sister, friend. After all, our loved ones see strength in us even when we don’t see it in ourselves.
I can focus on what was taken or what I still have, even what has been gained. In Christ Jesus, there is always still so much to gain.
“At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together.” ~Unknown
I leave you with these words from Brittany Rust which I love: “Whatever you might be going through today, know that when you look to Him you are His. Know that whatever is going on around you cannot stand against Him. Find the joy that endures the circumstances because the joy is in Him.”
How will you choose joy today?