I have this thorn in my flesh.
Physical pain. Physical weakness. Physical fatigue. Unpredictable physical health.
My thorn is an autoimmune disease: rheumatoid arthritis.
For years, I have prayed for God to heal me. But He hasn’t…yet. The days of sickness have turned into weeks…into months…into years. I have sought numerous treatment paths, but there is still no end in sight. Perhaps that is the hardest part of chronic illness. A virus typically runs its course in a few days. Pregnancy lasts nine months.
Chronic illness? Well, the word chronic means “persistent for a long time, consistently recurring”. Illness like that not only affects your body, but it deeply affects your mind and emotions also.
And yet…I also have this call to ministry. My primary ministry calling is to homeschool my children. In my heart, I have great dreams and vision. But my physical body often cannot keep up with my mind and my heart. I make plans for my family, but several days of a flare will throw everything off-course.
I often ask myself: With this chronic illness, can I really be the mom my kids need? Should I continue to homeschool?
Do you homeschool with chronic illness?
Oh, how my heart aches for you! Homeschooling by itself is tough. But with constant pain and fatigue, it often feels downright impossible.
Do you feel like you are cheating your children? Like you are not enough to give them what they need? Do you live with frustrations of not being able to plan reliably? Can you identify with the darkness of having no end in sight?
Do you feel alone in your struggle? I guarantee you that you are not!
Don’t believe the lie that you are alone.
First, there are many, many of us moms who fight day after day to do what we are called to do. We drag ourselves out of bed when everything inside is screaming at us to hide back under the covers. We push ourselves to cook, parent, and teach when our minds are lost in brain fog. We (at least try to) force ourselves to choose joy and smile for our children when the turmoil of our symptoms threatens to overtake us.
You have much company with other struggling moms.
But much more importantly, God sees you. He cares for you. He grieves over your pain. He understands your suffering. He wants to help you, although maybe not with the immediate healing you desire.
We have a hidden gift in chronic illness.
Those of us who homeschool with chronic illness have a special opportunity. A hidden gift from Jesus. No, it’s not a gift I would request. But I am learning to be thankful for it.
We have the opportunity to get close to Jesus and see His power at work. We can watch His power transform us, our children, and our homeschools. His power is most visible in our weakness. With chronic illness, we have a constant reminder of how weak our bodies truly are. That means we have a constant reminder to surrender and let Jesus work for us.
You see, God’s Word tells us that His grace is sufficient for us, for power is perfected in weakness. Paul said he would boast in his weakness, so that the power of Christ might dwell in him. (II Corinthians 12:9-10)
You might be thinking, “Sure, let Jesus do the work for me. Sounds great. But not in reality. The dishes still need to be washed; my child needs to learn to read. Is Jesus coming to cook dinner tonight?”
Letting Jesus’ power be sufficient…that doesn’t sound really practical, does it? Perhaps it sounds like only a nice Sunday school thought.
Maybe we should reconsider the goals we are pursuing. Is our goal teaching a math lesson? Is our goal performing a science experiment? Is our goal getting through the year?
Or is the real desire of our hearts to see our children transformed?
Only Jesus can do that anyway.
Will you join me?
Can we dare to boast in our weakness of chronic illness?
We are doing something that really is impossible. It is far beyond our ability. Homeschooling with chronic illness is not something we can do on our own. But God says His grace and power are sufficient. If His Word says so, then it must be true.
Are you willing to surrender the burden of doing the impossible? Will you join me in exploring some ways to teach our children from a place of rest – despite our illnesses?
Upcoming topics include:
- Knowing God as Comforter, while trusting He is still Healer
- Freedom for planning with loop schedules
- The hard reality of living on the AIP diet
- Being made to lie down…and finding a green pasture
- Taking care of yourself is not selfish
- Darkness of depression and anxiety
- Unexpected lessons for my children through my illness
- Plan A…and Plan B…and Plan C
- Changing my expectations of what success looks like
To follow this impossible calling, we much change our expectations and form some new strategies. With a different mindset, despite the daily struggles of chronic illness, we can continue to homeschool.
And we will not merely survive.
February 11, 2016 at 7:43 am
Such an encouragement! While I don’t have a chronic illness to battle, as a homeschooling mama to 4 little ones, I share many of the struggles and fears you mentioned here. I look forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing your heart.