On Being Misunderstood

All my life, for better or worse, I have been quietly paralyzed by this question, “How will they see me?”

But then seven years ago, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme, I didn’t want to face the world.

Because I was now beset with this mostly invisible, mysterious, controversial illness that had half my doctors questioning my sanity, and yet, I woke up every morning for years, facing very real symptoms that I couldn’t escape or ignore.

Here I was, a life that had been built around the approval of others, now was just laid open, SO bare. And I will admit, the emotional isolation of the illness was just as painful as the physical manifestations. Maybe more.

Besides having to do all I could to heal physically, an equally hard task was having to step out and face the parts of me that I wanted to hide – I had to speak up when I wanted to be quiet, to share when I wanted to turn safely inward, to allow my insecurities to show when I wanted to “seem” strong.

Living with an illness like Lyme forced me to face my fears of being misunderstood.

Now the truth is, I have found the world is pretty understanding. People actually care. They want to help if given the chance. When I was at my sickest, I had the support and love of family and friends. But still, there are those who will never get the extent to which another suffers. There will be judgments. There will be naïve but hurtful comments that will literally crush your already fragile spirit. There will be doctors who will dismiss you. There will be a lot of self-doubt. There will be those who will never say it, but wonder if your suffering is as real as you make it to be… or if, as in my case, I was simply a stressed out mom of three young kids who just needed a few more pedicures.

Though it has not been an easy journey, it has been worthwhile. I have a greater appreciation for those who stood by me through my lowest points, and all the relapses in between. It takes a brave, sensitive person to stick by someone who is suffering constantly with an illness that no one really understands. I think now of all that my husband had to go through even when I didn’t have the energy nor the lucidness to explain the pain, and I am incredibly humbled…and so thankful!

And though it has been far from an overnight transformation (try seven years and counting!), I feel like, by God’s grace, I am a better version of myself than I would have been if I have lived feeling mostly “understood.”

Thankfully, I am now in a place of feeling so much better. God has brought a lot of healing into this body of mine.

But I also thank Him for loving me enough to smash my pride into a million pieces.

Pride.

I am now just getting how destructive this is.

I am learning the hard truth that God doesn’t always call us to a comfortable life of feeling understood and validated, but to a life of love and courage and truth, regardless. Simply, He calls us to a life worthy of the gospel.

This means to know that we are loved and forgiven, securely and infinitely, because of Christ’s work on the cross. Then to know, no matter where we find ourselves, that we are called to live a life that responds accordingly… a life defined by loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul… and loving others more than we do ourselves.

For me that meant telling my story even when I really didn’t really want to; it meant risking being misunderstood, in case my honesty could be an encouragement to someone in their journey.

It was hard to take that first step. Very hard.

But you know what? God is in the business of lifting up the broken.

Finally, as I take the focus off myself, I feel more apt to embrace the story He is writing in my life. Finally, I feel more free to boast in my weaknesses, knowing He will be my strength.

Finally, the chains are loosening, as I am learning to care about what He thinks above all.

And it feels good.

I have to say, this has been perhaps one of the greatest ways I am healing.

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13 thoughts on “On Being Misunderstood

  1. Great post and thank you for it! I’ve struggled so long with some health issues. And it angers me sometimes that God is able to heal but He never does. And He has the power! And, as you say, people make naive but hurtful comments because they don’t understand. And it feels isolating. Your post sounds like 2 Corinthians 12:9, which I could never understand. It’s encouraging and has shown me a new and better perspective. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I can definitely relate to you… my heart still questions why some have to suffer so much for so long, especially knowing that God CAN heal us immediately. I don’t have all the answers, but I am learning that through it, the only way to find hope is to cling to His goodness and the promises He gives us in Scripture. And He does give us a ton of promises. And yes! I had 2 Corinthians 12:9 in mind. Talk about a hard verse to truly let sink in…. you are right, it’s one thing to read this verse, it’s another thing to actually have to live it out. All the best to you. Hang in there. I loved your thoughts! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. I am very sorry to hear that you are dealing with Lyme. Don’t ever give up hope. Praying for better and stronger days ahead.

  2. Amazing testimony Kim!

    What you wrote beautifully sure shows what great God we have. But it also shows people like myself that relying on God even through all sevens years will do for a person. You have shown faith in God that most people like myself can’t understand completely but know it can be done through your words. Also, you have reminded me is that in the valley of what is impossible, God is there to give you the possible. To look in the mirror now and see how God sees you now rather than how you looked in the mirror in the beginning of this blog. He has given you the gift of words that are pure and filled with true feelings. Something I get attached to when someone speaks from their heart that is filled with God and Jesus. Thank you for taking the risk to put your words out there that have touched me today! God Bless!

    1. Thanks for such an encouraging comment. I am always very blessed whenever a bit of my story can touch someone. I know this is God at work and not me. Going through a valley is definitely where faith is tested… and where I had to ask myself if I truly trusted this God I have believed in most of my life…wow, it was hard. It felt impossible to see the light at first. But yes, He is the God of the possible. 🙂 Again, thank you SO much for your beautiful encouragement. Here’s to telling our story for His glory!

    1. So glad that you enjoyed this post… it’s always the ones that feel at first so raw that seem to translate better – better, in fact, than the ones I belabor over. What do you know? I loved your recent post on “love” by the way. It truly was a fun, insightful and at the end…profound read. 🙂

      1. EXACTLY sister!! I like to distinguish between the posts that God writes (easily) and the ones that take work to grind out too!! Thank you so much for your encouraging words- a gift to me!! Lots of His love, and mine too to you this day!

  3. Kim, this is a beautiful testimony. Thank you for letting God work in you and through you, and for allowing this trial to point others to Him and his glory. You inspire me, friend.

    1. Abby, your comment reminds me that it is a privilege to be used for God’s work. A true privilege. Sometimes it’s hard and painful and uncomfortable… but what more honor is there than to point others to His glory?? YOU inspire me!

  4. Love smashing, love – so beautiful, Kim. What a powerful story you have to tell – with such a humble and God honoring voice. It’s amazing what God can do with our broken places, isn’t it? The road is long, but looking back with gratefulness not only honors Him but it empowers others to tell their story too. Way to go – your big, brave steps are of great value. So glad that you are on the path toward continued recovery and have found your people to keep you strong. The husbands, oh yes, God bless them! Hugs to you, friend.

    1. Thanks Tiffany! Sometimes the power of love feels like it is literally smashing us… but, it’s in the shards and the brokenness, that we SLOWLY but surely learn what wholeness means. I have a long ways to go my friend! But thank you for your encouraging words throughout this journey of blogging/writing…. we are in this together! And I am so thankful for hearts like yours to journey along with! 🙂

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