Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is Quitting Giving Up?

On Friday I retired my nursing scrubs for the time being. I tried working my new job for two days but have spent the rest of the week mostly lying down recovering.  It was not at all what I was expecting--8 hours a day of mostly sitting or standing in one position looking at charts and entering data in a computer.  I tried taking extra pain medicines, but I couldn't concentrate mentally and was in tears throughout the day due to the pain from so much sitting. I tried standing more, but my body hurts all over when I stand for long periods of time.

I have tried to work at least a few hours a week for the last year and a half since my pain with sitting began. There were many days that I would cry on the way home from work and tell my husband I just couldn't continue doing this anymore.  But somehow God would give me the grace to work another shift. I think my husband and I have known this day would come for several months now and have come to accept it easier than others who love me have.  I have heard many comments with good intentions telling me that "you don't want to just give up, do you"and encouraging me that "getting out of the house will be good for me", "that work will distract me from the pain", or "I just need to think positively".  These comments made me feel like I just should push through the pain.  But after much prayer and thought, I believe there comes a point when struggling with a chronic illness that you have to think about the quality of your life.

I recently read this article by Lisa Copen, who has lived 18 years with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, "Is Living With Illness Choosing to Give In?" which I  definitely could identify with. I really liked this quote:
"A person with rheumatoid arthritis may run a 25-mile marathon and are quoted saying, “I chose to never give up.” I have chosen to never give up either, but I am blessed to get my feet into extra-wide diabetic shoes and walk around the grocery store. My own limitations, or those of one who uses a wheelchair each day, is not something that is a measurement of determination or stubbornness about our disease."
My inability to work anymore has nothing to do with my own stubbornness or determination. As much as we hate to admit it, nothing in life is really in our control. Even a lady with rheumatoid arthritis who can run a marathon is only able to do that because God has graciously given her the ability.  I can try to do things to decrease my pain, but ultimately it is out of my control. Working didn't distract me from the pain, in fact it made me think about it even more as I every minute I sat I felt a burning "fire" running through my pelvis. I'd rather focus my thoughts on things of the LORD rather than "positive thinking". And just because I am not working doesn't mean I won't get out the house when I can. My purpose in this life doesn't come from my job, but rather from being a child of God and serving Him however He leads.

Although we have always lived very frugally, financially things are going to be tight for us. However, I feel a peace about not working. I know that God will supply every need we have as He has already done through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  I do not know exactly what the Lord has in store, but I am excited to see His provision and purpose continue to unfold in my life.


  1. I'm so sorry you weren't able to continue working. I know how difficult it can be to come to that decision. I've been there. Its sad grieving another loss and the kind of comments people make don't help. Its over 4 years since I had to give up working and people are still making comments that imply I've given up, or I'm not fighting hard enough to get better or that I need to think positive. (That one drives me mad!) These people probably mean well (I hope!) but they have no idea how much of a struggle it is just to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, take a shower or go for a short walk. Its hard to accept our limitations, its something I have to do continually but I think you're doing amazingly! God will supply all your needs and take good care of you an your family.

    I read a quote from Amy Carmichael once that said God never unnecessarily causes pain to his children. That if we are going through pain and illness God has a reason for it even if we can't see what it is. God's ways are so much higher than mine, I need to trust in that.

    I'd actually recommend Amy Carmichael's book Rose from Brier to you, if you haven't read it. I don't know if you've heard of her but she was a missionary to India in Victorian times but she spent the last 20 years of her life bed bound and in pain. Rose from Brier is a collection of letter she wrote from her sickbed to other sick people. The language is very old fashioned & sometimes a little difficult to fully understand, but so very deep and encouraging and the chapters are very short. I think from reading your blog you would like it!

  2. Thanks Miriam. I always appreciate your comments. Thanks for the book reccommendation. I have read half of Amy Carmichael's biography by Elisabeth Elliot. I also have her book "If" which is full of "If" statements followed by "then I know nothing of Calvary's love". Very challenging. God's richest blessings to you!

    The Purpose of Pain (for some reason it's not letting me post under my own account!)