The things that are really important don’t change, just because we got sick. In fact, dealing with a chronic illness is often what forces us to evaluate what is important, and focus on that. As a result of having such a limited energy supply, I have had to think carefully about what really matters to me, and assign energy to it accordingly. And, despite how much I truly hate the restrictions imposed on me by my body, I have learned a lot about what really matters.
I have much to say on this, but not much ability left in my mind to say it. I have prioritised spending time with a friend over writing a deeper blog post, because relationships are important. So I shall merely point out some of the many things which are important – and you will hopefully see for yourself that illness, while perhaps affecting our ability to embrace these things, cannot remove them all entirely: Love for our family, our friends, our pets, people and whatever else; finding peace; growing our character; developing the various relationships we have; appreciating beauty, taking joy in the small things; meditating upon what is good.
I will expound upon this one example: As a Christian, my character is immensely important – and being ill has not changed that. The “fruit of the Spirit” (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) are just as develop-able now as they ever were (or, conversely, just as hard to produce!). There are other aspects to character too, of course; honesty, focus, how we spend our time, and more besides. Nothing about my illness has excluded me from this important thing, nor should it, although it has changed how I relate to it. In fact, I realised that the energy I poured into my relationship with God was not in proportion to how important it was.
That energy-importance relationship stands for other things too. Food is more important than getting dressed. Spending time with people is more important than tidying up. There are countless things which I used to do that I don’t have the energy for any more, but in relation to the things I use my energy for – they don’t matter. I hope one day I can do them, but until then I will stick with what is more important. That is why realising what is important is about coping – because we can cope without the unimportant; whereas the important is the reason for us to cope!