We all face battles in our lives, struggles, suffering. It’s different for each of us. For me, the looming giant in my way is a little thing called cystic fibrosis (and all it entails).
I’ve often told people that I can’t do the ‘sick kid’ books and movies – you know, the tear jerkers like My Sister’s Keeper: the girl who dies in a car crash, giving her organs to save her sister with cancer; or The Fault in Our Stars: the two cancer patients who fall in love and then one of them dies; A Walk To Remember: the handsome young man falling in love with the sick girl, giving her the ability to make the most out of her last days; or even the Fox TV show Red Band Society: the teenagers who live in a hospital and become fast friends because they’re all sick.
I’ve read those books, tried to watch those shows. But they don’t really depict real life for those of us with any disease, at least in my experience.
The reality is that life is often hard physically – the treatments, the demands on our bodies from the therapies – it can take a toll, sometimes ones that you can see, but many times ones that you can’t.
The reality is that life is often hard emotionally – only people who have been through what we are experiencing can really understand. And though you try to sympathize and understand (which we appreciate greatly) what we are going through, the reality is that we often go through it alone. We don’t want to burden you with our fears, insecurities, and all of the baggage that comes with a chronic illness. We’re trying to spare you – but it often means we are left alone.
The reality is that life is often hard Spiritually – reconciling our struggles with a good God, the creator of everything, and why He is allowing these things to happen in our lives.
The reality is that life is often hard mentally – having few people to lean on because they are scared away by your disease, storing it all up inside and only falling apart behind closed doors.
The books and the TV shows almost make it look like it’d be fun to be sick. They romanticize it. They say that you’d be unique, different, and everyone would just love you for who you are, no matter what. That living in a hospital would be cool. That it’s not scary to have a real idea of how long you’ve got left on earth. That no one treats you differently. That your life isn’t different from anyone else’s. That people will fall in love with you in spite of your sickness, never rejecting you for your disease.
Pardon my French, but I call BS.
Complete and total BS.
Life is not often like it is portrayed in movies and TV shows – sick or not.
Real life is often messier than the media portrays it.
Real people aren’t stick skinny and eat ten calories per day. Real people play in the dirt, and that’s okay. Real people don’t have it all together all the time. Real people struggle, fail, fall, and scrape their knees.
Although my life has not been as pretty and prefect as the media may portray it, it’s actually been so much better. Because I live alongside other real people, who help to pick me up when I fall down, and who take my hand when they fall down. I live alongside people who are struggling with hard things, and get to watch as they grow in faith and shine His light so brightly even in the midst of all of it. I get to invite people into my life, and get to pour into theirs. I get to play with kids, who bring genuine smiles to my face no matter what else has happened that day. I get to see God work in amazing ways through my friends, and get to let Him work through me.
I’d rather have real life with Christ any day of the week than the romanticized version we see on the screen, no matter how hard it is.
Kristen Entwistle is the blog manager for Broken Beautiful BOLD and is a graduate student pursuing her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University. She helps to lead worship at her church on Sunday mornings and leads a women’s Bible study on Saturday mornings. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was three months old, and has seen God work through the ups and downs of life and through her disease. In response to God’s calling, Kristen started All For Him Life, a ministry seeking to encourage and challenge women of all ages in Christ with FREE Bible studies offered throughout the year.
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