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Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

Life's Unexpected Detours: When Chronic Illness Enters Your Life

By Lisa Copen

It was 1986 and I learned the world was not fair after all. My first detour as a young adult: I was not elected homecoming princess. In my eyes it was a tragedy. People came up and congratulated me all day and I had to explain that no, they had misunderstood. I had not been chosen. My name was accidentally printed in the school paper, but I never got to wear the crown. It wasn’t fair! I had come in 6th place, but the football coach had decided that this year—for the first time—there would be only 5 princesses so that it would be more visually appealing when the queen was chosen and stood center stage. The advice I was given? "Get used to it." A friend of my mother’s said that she got everything she wanted until later in life, and when the answer "No" came (as it eventually does) she didn’t know how to cope with loss or denial. I dealt with it.

Looking back I smile at this childhood "tragedy," the tears that were shed, the feeling of "It’s not fair!" and the moments of envy I felt as I sat in the bleachers and watched others experience the joy I wanted so badly. Why do I smile? Because not only do I realize how fortunate I was for the multitude of positive experiences I had as a child, but because I have never felt the drama of those feelings since then. Perhaps God knew what He was doing after all when He said "No" to this teenager’s plea.

I didn’t know at the time that seven years later God would say no again. It would not be fair. I would have moments of envy as I watched others from the sidelines. I would care little for the crown; rather I would just desire shoes that fit onto my feet. I would gladly trade in the ballroom dress for knees that could bend with ease, fingers that could grasp a pen.

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

As a young woman I accepted my detour that the illness took me on. However, I forgot that detours are often longer paths than the original road. They are often bumpier paths, full of dust and loud roaring construction equipment. Sometimes the detour signs disappear all together and one is left wondering which way to turn. Sometimes detours lead you back to the main road, and then a mile later, you encounter another detour.

We make plans for our lives, determined to be prepared for anything that God hands us, but just in the midst of our planning, an unexpected detour occurs. Our course is meaningless is we do not follow the detours that the Lord leads us on.

My husband and I have just encountered a new detour. Side effects of medications have made a pregnancy unlikely and we are starting down the winding path of adoption. I am reminded of Proverbs 19:21. "Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." Yes, I have many plans... but the Lord’s purpose in this new detour will prevail—of this I am certain, when all else seems unsure.

It’s been said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." I can assure you that God has been in quite a humorous mood lately if He’s been watching me. I like to have a plan. I like to plan my plans. I am slowly learning to surrender them to Him every new day. Embrace your detours, for this is where you will grow closest to God. This is where you will find the most peace. This is where you will gain wisdom and strength rather than self-efficiency. "This is what the Lords says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where to good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls...’" (Jeremiah 6:16).


f you liked this check out this presentation on tape:
Dreams! Do You Keep Them or Wean Them?

If you enjoyed this article you may also like
Why Does God Always Seem to Work Just in Time?
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Get a free download of 200 ways to reach out to someone who is hurting from Beyond Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend when you sign up for hopenotes, a monthly ezine. Author of this article, Lisa Copen is also the founder of Rest Ministries and National Invisible Illness Awareness Week.





Don't forget! This article can be reprinted for free or syndicate Lisa's new articles.