Without going into the gorey details, my church life has recently changed dramatically and it has been extremely painful. I've shared before how I tend to withdraw when I'm going through a difficult patch and this time is no different. I find myself not answering phone calls, saying "No thanks" to lunch invites, and basically crawling into my cave. Call it hibernating, pouting, or self-preservation. The fact remains, this is my natural tendency.
I've tried not do that this time and have done fairly well. I have my moments, though and today was one of those moments. Our small group meets on Wednesday nights. It's just a group of us who've been friends for years and our families get together for uplifting, encouraging Bible study.
Today, I didn't want to go. I just wanted to hide from the uncertainty, the pain, and just do my own thing. Luckily, my friends didn't let me off the hook that easily and my family and I went after all. I was quiet through the entire meeting because I was fighting back tears. Tears of anger, betrayal, grief...but more than that...tears of thankfulness. I'm thankful for TRUE community and family. I'm thankful for the love of family that exists based on our shared belief in Jesus and that has grown through living our lives together. I was overwhelmingly uplifted and encouraged just by being there.
The same can be true in dealing with chronic illness. It's extremely important to stay connected. Isolation can be devastating and lead to depression in some cases. Staying connected to friends, family, even online friends can be a tremendous blessing. I encourage you to reach out even when you don't "feel like it". Pick up the phone, say "yes" to lunch invitations, even email or visit forums or health blogs. Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone, don't allow isolation creep into your life with chronic illness.
I'd love to hear what's worked for you and how you've stayed connected to others. Email me (kristenreyna at gmail dot com) or leave me a comment.