was a hectic month. My husband's family
came to visit for nine days, and within
twenty-six hours of their departure, my
parents and sister arrived from out of
town for the Holiday Bowl events. Despite
knowing that I was becoming ill, I participated
in all of the events: the parade, the
Bowl game (where I cheered for the Ducks,
despite my sore throat), and the next
day we went to Sea World (where, for a
change, I welcomed the wheelchair).
left a couple of days ago, and I finally
was able to reach a doctor to get anti-biotics.
But I am sick; and being on anti-biotics
means that I cannot take the regular drugs
for my illness, so I am flaring too. Did
I do too much? Did I over-do? I have to
admit, yes. But more importantly, would
I change a thing? No. Despite not feeling
well, I have memories that will last a
lifetime, and I have this week to now
think of my health. And regain lost ground.
important point, however: do I advocate
overdoing? Spreading one's self
too thin? Feeling bad and doing
What I choose is not necessarily
the best choice for you
that is why, as I sit here on the
couch to write this article, I choose
setting limits as my topic.
with a chronic illness means that we will
have to make choices to do something or
to not do something every day. We do not
have the advantage of "taking the
day off" when we feel poorly, as
we never quite feel up to par as we did
before the illness. When illness is a
daily part of our life, we will experience
seasons: seasons where we feel physically
better than average or seasons where our
spiritual walk seems to disappear completely.
2 Timothy 4:2a says "be prepared
in season and out of season."
I can take this out of context for a moment
I would like to suggest that, despite
what season in which you are residing,
be prepared to make decisions, and be
prepared for some of them to be the wrong
ones. Learning to live with chronic illness
is a process. Start this year out by learning
how to set limits and make the best choices.
How do we do this?
you know what you should or should not
do in order to avoid regrets. I could
have skipped Sea World, but I wanted to
be there and be a part of the family's
experience. I felt at the moment that
if I could be in the wheelchair I could
pull it off. Others would eagerly tell
me my choice was ridiculous. I know that
there are days when I would have not considered
such an outing and I would be able to
say "I just can't go today"
without any regrets. We all know where
that line is that we need to draw, and
no one can make that decision for us.
you can't do something, tell those around
you, but don't feel obligated to offer
multiple explanations or apologies.
If you have to say, "I can't do it,"
invite the others to go ahead without
you or suggest something in which you
could participate instead. Avoid going
into long details about your illness and
why it's holding you back. Despite your
limits, try to stay positive.
ahead. If you know company is coming
or a special day is arriving, make plans
to be as comfortable as possible. Rest
the day before, hire a housekeeper instead
of cleaning, heat up a frozen dinner,
etc. Pace yourself as much as you can.
for wisdom and discernment in making the
best choices. Ask God to give your
friends understanding. Speak firmly and
confidently when you explain the circumstances,
using your words carefully and full of
grace. Don't just go with the flow and
then make everyone else miserable. Don't
accuse anyone of making you feel obligated
to do too much. Explain, "I can do
___ ,but then I need to rest a bit."
Try to avoid taking the comments that
you will receive personally.
this the year that you learn your limits
and communicate them effectively.
For a great book on learning how to set
effective limits with a Christian spirit,
read Boundaries by Dr. Henry, Cloud
& Dr. John Townsend, available at
your local bookstore.