When a person is handed the news that he or she has a chronic, life-altering disease like lupus, it is quite common to feel overwhelmed (to say the least). The test results, procedures, medications, roll in like the tide - catching you off guard and knocking you flat, often pulling you down into the deep undercurrent of worry, uncertainty, and doubt.
If this is your current situation, you are not alone - the “S.S. Lupus” can leave quite a wake! Though the seas may be rough at times, thankfully, they are not untraveled waters. Thousands have traversed the lupus channels before you, understand the unpredictable tidal changes, and are waiting with life-preservers to help you stay afloat.
The More Than Lupus community understands that there are many questions that may be swirling through your mind while you are dog-paddling in the tumultuous lupus current. Some of these persistent inquiries may include:
“I am a good person! Why did this happen to me?”
“I don’t have time for this! Why is it happening now?”
“Couldn’t I have been diagnosed with something simpler? Curable? Why does it have to be lupus?”
Let me state, these are healthy questions to ponder, in fact, they are part of a normal grieving process. The “Did I cause this?” or “Could I have stopped this?” or “Am I being punished?” are all common inquiries we diffuse into the universe. When we are struggling with our lupus diagnosis, or the overwhelming symptoms, or the disappointing test results, how can we NOT ask those questions? We want answers, a fix, a resolution, and if those don’t come (and don’t come quickly), we may turn on ourselves and pick away at our self-worth, blame ourselves or others, feel shame, feel guilt, and completely empty our joy bucket.
I must confess, I have heard the expression “Why do bad things happen to good people” more times that I can remember. Why you ask? Here you go: Bad things happen to bad people, and good things happen to bad people. Good things happen to good people…and good things happen to bad people. As the Good Book says, “ The rain falls on the just AND the unjust.” Like it or not, this is just how this unpredictable and marvelously complex world works. As writer Harold S. Kushner perfectly wrote, “Pain is the price we pay for being alive.”
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO YOU?
Let’s get down to the million dollar question: Why did this happen to you? Well, not to be blunt, but, why not you?
I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan. Some of his most famous works include: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity. When he wrote about pain and suffering, Lewis, who witnessed his beloved wife die of cancer, put it this way: "But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
Pain is used to teach and refine, and, the last time I checked, the laws of nature do not make “get out of jail pain free” cards for nice people. As Harold S. Kushner commented, “A bullet has no conscience; neither does a malignant tumor or an automobile gone out of control. That is why good people get sick and get hurt as much as anyone.”
Let me ask you this-if you don’t think you are deserving of lupus, do you think someone else is? Would you prefer to cast off the shackles of your illness and cast them onto someone else? I sure hope the majority vote is a “no.” I get it, lupus is hard, and when hard things happen, sometimes it is challenging to accept those things because they feel unfair. But here comes another existential question. Who promised that life would be fair?
CHANGING THE QUESTION
“Being sick or being healthy is not a matter of what God decides what we deserve. The better question is “If this has happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?” - Harold. S. Kushner. Hypothetically speaking, if we lived in a fair world, where suffering and disease did not exist…who would we be as humans, as individuals, or as a society?
One of my personal heroines is Helen Keller. In fact, I love her so much that her words are the basis and inspiration for my organization morethanlupus.com. She beautifully stated this, “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” She also went on to state this, “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
Finding contentment despite your circumstances, despite your suffering, despite your lupus, is no easy undertaking, however, there is a stark reality here. The reality is, through this diagnosis you are either going to step-up or stumble. Author Richard Rohr said it best, “If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.” Begrudging your illness and this season of suffering, will only keep you stuck in the sand. However, learning to explore your current situation, ponder it, and use it to better yourself and help others will benefit you greatly.
If you are in a place where you are asking yourself, “Why me?” daily, how do you get to a place of peace? How do you learn, whatever state you may be in, "therein to be content?" How do you accept your current reality when you’re grieving your “before lupus” life and find fulfillment and even joy? You have to choose it, and though this choice may seem difficult, you step out in faith knowing that through your courage, you are being shaped, you are being transformed, you are making diamonds. And there will be something quite beautiful that will rise from the ashes, if you allow it to.
If you find yourself wondering, “Why me?” today - stop, breathe, and whisper this: Because there is NO ONE else designed to learn from this experience, at this perfect moment in time, to show others that they can shine too.
If You Have to Wear an Ugly Dress, Learn to Accessorize: Guidance, Inspiration, and Hope for Women with Lupus, Scleroderma, and Other Autoimmune Illnesses published February 1, 2013 by Linda McNamara , Karen Kemper
When Bad Things Happen to Good People Published August 24, 2004 by Harold S. Kushner
**All resources provided by this blog are for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. Kelli encourages you to always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns regarding your illness. All intellectual property and content on this site and in this blog is owned by morethanlupus.com. This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus, 2018.