For years the only person who knew I suffered from a chronic illness was my husband. Over time, and out of necessity, a few more people were allowed into my world of health issues—and yet no one really knew the severity of what I went through, except my husband.
What I’ve come to realize is that I prefer my world be divided into two clear parts: the private, reclusive Cheryl and the author, writer, teacher, social Cheryl. Mostly, though, at the heart of who I am is the private, reclusive Cheryl.
My quiet, alone time is important to me—even more so since I began spiritual direction a few years ago and sought to understand the movements of God in my life and live accordingly. I need to be with God in a very real way and have learned how to respond to the ache for Him through my prayer life and “down time.”
As the years progressed and I understood that my physical suffering had value, I began sharing bits and pieces of what I was going through: severe joint problems, nights of dizziness and vomiting that rivaled scenes from The Exorcist, and constant feelings of imbalance (just to name a few). I’m not sure where I saw my “sharing” going but believed that God was using it for some reason beyond the way it was drawing me deeper in my relationship with Him. I was willing to let Him use it as He saw fit. That was all I knew at the time.
So it was that when I signed the contract with Servant Books to write Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women I knew it was time for it to be shared in a very public way in the chapter “The Gift of Suffering.” Still, it isn’t easy opening yourself up to the world and letting people know about your life experiences. It isn’t easy to shine a light on what you are going through and suggest that someone else can draw insight or inspiration from it.
Quite frankly, I would rather have been healthy my whole life; and I share that sentiment and frustration as well in the book.
Nonetheless, I’m allowing God to continue to mold me (I keep thinking “Potter-Clay”) and although I’m still on the journey towards wholeness and health, I pray that the knowledge that suffering from a chronic condition can be a gift from God will shine through in my words which have been prayed through and offered up for every woman who reads Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women.
Copyright 2012 Cheryl Dickow
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