Please join me in welcoming my friend, author, writer & speaker Jennifer Slattery, to the blog today! Instead of chatting about one of her books, though, she’s sharing some things she’s learned about thriving with chronic illness. This is a subject close to my own heart, so I’m thrilled to learn more about her podcast & hear her speak wisdom over this topic today.
Is it possible to suffer daily with chronic illness and also live a thriving life? Yes! Jennifer Slattery is your chronic illness coach and friend, walking alongside you with the resources and support you need to thrive in your life. In the Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast, Jennifer Slattery empowers listeners to see their illness through the lens of the gospel, using Scripture as a roadmap for navigating the challenges, loneliness, fatigue and pains of life with chronic illness, while also learning how to thrive. Listen HERE
how fibromyalgia strengthened my identity
by Jennifer Slattery, Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast
Fibromyalgia has helped me live out what I’d always claimed to be true, decades prior—that I truly am enough in Christ. Whether I’m successful or not, super productive or spending my day in bed, sick or well, I am more than enough because Christ in me is enough. What’s more, He loves me, died for me, and chose me, knowing precisely when I’d sit or rise, remain in bed, or make it to Bible study. And His love for me, His approval of me, doesn’t ebb or flow according to my emotions or health.
When I first became sick, I felt pretty frustrated and discouraged, and not just with my symptoms. Those were, and can be, tough. Sometimes really tough. But I’ve learned, eventually my pain will decrease and my energy will increase, at least, for a time. But when I compared my relatively good days to my bad, my bouts of productivity seemed far too brief. Inevitably, this led to guilt as I thought of all the ways I’d fallen short—as a wife, a mom, a writer, a ministry leader.
I’d spent a lifetime of entangling my identity with what I did, rather than who I was. If I got a lot done, if I accomplished something measurable, then I determined I had value. If half have of my goals remained dormant and half of my to-do list unchecked, I felt insufficient. I worried I was being lazy, giving in to my pain and fatigue when others stronger than me would’ve pushed through. They certainly seemed to be, after all. I watched other women, struggling with illnesses much more debilitating than fibromyalgia, hold successful careers while volunteering and raising families.
I wonder if, on their hardest days, they watched me and felt the same. I suspect they did. That’s how comparison works. We see one another’s heavily filtered smiles and publicly shared wins, but not our hidden moments of pain, of weakness, of what feels like defeat. Those are the unrealistic standards many of us measure ourselves by, rather than the call of Christ.
I’m still growing in this area. Still learning to view myself through His love and grace, rather than someone else’s filtered Instagram highlights. And here’s a truth that’s helped.
God truly is sovereign. I believe He really did record all my days, before a single one came to be. He knew precisely when fibromyalgia would hit and how I’d spend each moment after. He saw every lengthy to-do list I’d create for myself, and all the times, when feeling unwell, I’d tear it to shreds. I have all the energy and time to do all that God has assigned, and honestly, that’s all I want to do anyway. Oh, I forget this sometimes and allow myself to creep back on the performance wheel. But then common sense hits, and I ask myself, “Why? Why would I ever trade my identity in Christ, the One who knows all and sees all and rules all, for the subjective and ever-shifting opinion of man?
That’s like entering a literary contest with two judges—a senior acquisitions editor and a child just learning to read, and giving the child’s score the most weight. We’d never be so foolish, right?
I’m learning, in many ways, thanks to chronic illness, to give my Father’s voice the deference it deserves. And this almost always begins with a choice. I must choose to close my ears to every lie, spoken, interpreted, or thought, while intentionally focusing on truth.
Here’s the truth:
I’m entrusted with the gospel.
I’m enough in Christ.
I will always be enough in Christ, because Christ in me will always be enough.
If you’re struggling to rest in your true identity, make sure to check out Jennifer’s podcast Thriving With Chronic Illness where she shares how God can help all of us thrive, regardless of how we feel. Find it HERE.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts Life Audio’s Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast and Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
What about you? If you have a chronic illness, how are you thriving – or where are you most struggling? What meant most to you from Jennifer Slattery’s article?