“I can’t believe I screwed up again” plays like a broken record in your head. Maybe you lashed out at someone, missed a deadline, or were simply too tired to follow through with something.

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These are some thoughts people have when they feel worthless.

My biggest fear always surprises people. “Heights? Public Speaking? Death?,” they ask. “No” is the answer for all of the above. My biggest fear is actually disappointing others. I’m not afraid to die (I’ll address that later), university courses broke me of my public speaking fear (mostly), and I’ve faced my fear of heights a couple times. However, if someone says something like “that’s unacceptable,” “you could have done better,” or “I’m disappointed in you,” it will wreck me for days. I’ll hibernate in my room, lay down, and think about what I could have done differently. I’ll avoid the person who’s disappointed in me and isolate myself from my best friends because I’m so ashamed.

Illness hasn’t helped that at all. Fatigue sucked the life out of me and forced me to lay down several afternoons. As a result, I didn’t complete some school assignments to the best of my ability, skipped a couple classes, called in sick to work, declined invitations to hang out with friends, and didn’t practice my instruments as much this semester because I had to use that time for the things I didn’t finish earlier.

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Illness heightens my fear of disappointing others.

Due to my choices, negative thoughts penetrated my head. “You’re a failure.” “They need you at work.” “You paid for those classes and it’s your responsibility to show up.” “You’re a non-music major and need to practice for wind ensemble.” “You’re an editor and can proof read much better than that assignment you just turned in.”

Most people would say, given the circumstances, I actually did pretty well academically this semester. I still don’t have any grade lower than a B on my academic record. Although I knew most of my shortcomings stemmed from illness, I still punished myself. I believed God couldn’t possibly be happy with someone like me when I didn’t fully use the capabilities he gave me.

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Chronic illness creates limitations, but there’s always something you can do.

Talking to friends, family, and counselors has helped me realize that I believed a lie. God knew I wanted to do my best but I was physically and mentally too weak to accomplish what I could when I was healthy.

Also, remember Paul? He actually said to rejoice in our weaknesses:

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

God meets you where you’re at and loves you because he created you. He doesn’t love you based on what you do. He knows you’re not a superhuman and that you have limitations. Although we shouldn’t let those limitations stop us from living out our calling, they also shouldn’t make us disregard our identity in Christ.  Even if you can’t use the skills you want, God’s happy if you love/serve him and other people. He didn’t create the high standards you think you have to live up to.  Remember that next time you feel worthless.

Matthew 11:28-30:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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