The Highs and Lows of Living with Illness During Summertime

“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah.” (Psalm 32:4)

Summer. As the temperatures rise, and kids get out of school, many people, are celebrating. Summer is a time of vacations, memories, barbequing with friends, going to the beach, camping, and so much more. For one who lives with a chronic illness, however, it can be bittersweet.

Last weekend my family was invited to a birthday party–about 4 hours before it began. I told the host we would come, but I was physically worn out from my rheumatoid arthritis, sore from falling the day before, and didn’t think I could sit outside, in any hard chair for six hours. I did not know anyone and I just didn’t feel up to making small talk all day. At first, I planned to just come later for the BBQ dinner, but as it started getting complicated with son’s anxiety about Daddy leaving to come back to get me, I backed out and told my husband and son to just go and have fun.

My husband called later from the children’s party and said it was beautiful at the host’s house, overlooking a lake. But he’d had to walk along a hillside to get to the party area and there was no shade. He said, “I wish you were here but it really is not conducive for you.”

I made the right choice. Still, I wandered around the house without purpose. If I was too ill to go, was I too ill to go somewhere else? Should I conserve my energy for when they came home since my son insisted he as just going for a couple of hours? (I did wait and then they stayed late to swim and eat dinner.)

If you live with illness, summer can create a whole new list of things you can’t do: sit in the sun, eat ice cream, walk in the sand, find a place just to sit down, survive humidity and heat, and the list goes on. . . And if you are a parent, you may be feeling overwhelmed at entertaining your children all summer on your limited energy. How do you explain to their friend’s moms that you just can’t hang out at the pool for six hours?

I am learning to pace. I am considering what is best for me–not just for others, because oftentimes, the expectations of others are all in my head. People are more understanding than I sometimes believe them to be.

Prayer: God, there are so many things my heart wants to do and be by one I feel like I just keep having to cancel. Help me learn to prioritize them and know when to pass–or when to just go for it, even if I am in pain. Guide me in making wise choices for my health and place people around me who understand.

About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.

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What events are you hoping to do this summer that mean the most to you? How can you do everything in your power so that this may be able to occur? If you are unable to, what is your “back up plan” to get you through lonely times?

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