Photographs Rarely Show the Full Reality of Life with Illness

photographsI have scheduled devotionals to post this week. I had foot surgery 2 weeks ago today and just took my first shower. It has been a challenging couple of weeks and I apologize for my absence. Thanks for your understanding. -Lisa

Envy can quickly set in if we believe social media photos of friends represent their full reality. Laura shares.

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

There are time when I feel a twinge of jealousy. This often is related to noticing other people perform tasks that I find difficult.

One of the most difficult things for me to do is stand upright for any length of time. Prior to my pacemaker implant, I could stand less than a minute before my heart rate increased substantially and blood pressure dropped.

Since the pacemaker, I can last a few minutes. For me to safely stand upright, it is better if I lean and move my feet. Walking helps, but eventually symptoms appear.

I take notice of people who stand without symptoms; which is a majority of the population. These people wait calmly at check-out lines or stand quietly in church. I, on the other hand, fidget, lean and hope I can get through a line without incidence. I sit in church, rather than risk body crashing.

While I am a bit envious of others’ ease to stand, I have come to realize something. Most people have difficulties in life, even if they are not visible. Many chronic illnesses, including mine, are invisible in nature. To quickly look at me I appear healthy. But those who know me well can tell I am symptomatic by the way I walk, talk, and look.

I post photographs on my Facebook account. These include pictures after a bike ride or while with family. I look happy and I genuinely am. Perhaps some with chronic illness become jealous after viewing these images.

The story behind the picture is not always pretty, however. It often includes sleeping for the first day of a vacation and missing other events because traveling increases all symptoms. Or it may involve spending some time in the bathroom after a bike ride, as often that is what happens as my body crashes.

The smiles in the photographs are real, genuine. But there is a price to pay for the happiness.
And I am okay with this. But what I think is more important is remembering that most people have a hidden story; a cross to bare. We are all placed on this earth with no guarantee of an easy life. Rather, we are challenged. The best we can do is try not to judge others while embracing our life.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to find the joys in our everyday lives regardless of the struggles. Open our heart, eyes, and mind to the true beauty of our world. Amen.

About the author:
Laura Seil Ruszczyk lives in New York with her husband of 27 years and her three children. She is a retired elementary school counselor who currently runs a HopeKeepers group at her church. She has dysautonomia, the deregulation of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls such invisible functions as heart rate, blood pressure,
breathing and temperature regulation.

What are some things you enjoy, despite the hardships that may be present?