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Living with a Chronic Illness

Liz Carter · 23 Aug, 2020

Liz explains how she found a purpose in life despite her illness making her feel useless.

Hi. My name's Liz Carter, I live in Shropshire, and this is a little bit of my story.

So this is my morning routine of medication. I have to take a load of this every morning and night because I've lived with lung disease all of my life. So I'm just getting some of my pills out for my morning routine right now and my nebulizers, and my inhalers, and my antibiotics. 'Cause I have to be on constant antibiotics in order just to try and control this disease, which is quite a rare disease.

So, as I was growing up, I was quite aware that I was different, because I couldn't do the things the other kids did. Like, I couldn't get round the track in PE and I was bullied throughout school and really ended up feeling like I was useless. Like, I couldn't achieve as other people could achieve. I remember in the year that I did my GCSEs, I was off school for nearly a whole term. And, with bronchitis. Part of my lung disease means that I get a load of infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. Yeah, so that one, I was off school for about 10 weeks. I remember going in at the end and people giving me quite an ironic clap, saying "Oh well done for getting yourself into school." And just feeling like people didn't get it and that they thought that I was slacking off and being lazy, including the teachers. I got that kind of vibe from them as well.

And then of course my GCSE is didn't really go to plan because of that. 'Cause in those days, back in the dark ages, as my kids would say, they didn't really support kids like me who had a bit of a unknown illness. 'Cause it wasn't diagnosed at the time. So I was just really left to it. I didn't really have any extra home learning or anything like that when I was ill. So my GCSEs were really not as great as they perhaps could have been.

And yeah, so that was, it kind of started off a script in me that told myself I wasn't good enough, that I would never be very useful. And I felt like I wasn't very useful to God either, because all around me, I was hearing these messages that we had to be healed to be of any use to God. We had to be fixed. And I was hearing all this teaching that, you know, God would heal me if I have faith. And so I was feeling disappointed quite a lot at the time, because I really felt that I, you know, I'd failed God and that whenever people prayed for me, that I was failing them as well, it was kind of a disappointment in myself and in any God.

And I'd watch other people get healed and totally believe their God heals and feel that kind of voice in the depths of me saying, "Why not me? You know, I don't get it, Lord. I just don't understand it."

So yeah, life went on like that. And I managed to get a degree and become a teacher, primary school, which is what I'd always wanted to do. But five years into that, I had been getting more and more ill and it was just looking less and less likely that I'd be able to continue in that career. And it ended really with a really serious case of pneumonia.

And I, I just remember struggling for breath in the ambulance. Blue lighted it to the hospital and just saying to God, "Why? Why don't you heal me? So I can, you know, continue in this career and do this and do this great job and be useful. Useful for you and useful for others, useful for the kids." But he didn't heal me.

So, it was about coming to terms with that and it was about living in an acceptance of that, but not an acceptance that God has given me this disease, but acceptance that God actually helps me to thrive within it. And it's not about having to be fixed or having to be healed. That's not what is going to bring me happiness, and joy, and contentment, and peace. But actually it's in about looking to God.

And this is what I've really learned over the years that actually it's in taking my eyes off myself and looking to God within the pain that I find Jesus in the centre of the pain with me, because Jesus went through the worst of pain. So God is a God who identifies with us because he understands, because he's been there. So I just want to encourage you today, that if you're in pain, that if you're feeling lesser, that there is more. That God is wanting to partner with you wherever you are and whatever situation you're in.

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