The Transylvania Times -

Acceptance Supports Healing Of Chronic Fatigue


November 23, 2017

Chronic fatigue is physically and emotionally draining. In 1998 and for seven years thereafter I suffered from chronic fatigue. Every day I would get up out of bed just as tired if not more so than when I went to bed.

I just felt sick most of the time as if my energy force was gone. There was no pain nor did I feel depressed; there was just pervasive malaise. One of my challenges during that time was feeling dragged down alongside my desire to appear competent at work. At the time I lived in Georgia and had a demanding job. One of my common story lines was: what if the Board of Directors mistakes my low energy for disaffection at work.

However, by that time my inner resources were more available through meditation; and though I would roll out story lines about performing when I needed rest they were offset by just being with my fatigue without shameful judgment.

One of my spiritual teachers is Pema Chodron, who herself had a long bout with chronic fatigue. She suggests: “This moment is complete just as it is. I’m complete just as I am: things are whole and fine just as they are. It allows you somehow to just relax with the situation as being complete just as it is, rather than follow your spin on it that something’s wrong, you’ve done something wrong, or something wrong has happened.”

Chronic fatigue is no laughing matter. Fatigue, however, doesn’t have to define us. Our body may be broken either physically or by emotional exhaustion, but our worth is not confined to symptoms.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Second Corinth-ians how he came to accept his physical malady. “At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me. ‘My grace is enough, it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.

It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitation in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size…I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (Second Corinthians 12: 8-10 from “the Message” translation)

I can identify with Paul when he begged God to remove the so-called “thorn in his side.” No one wants to feel sick and in pain. I didn’t when I suffered from chronic fatigue. And yet, when we accept a limitation and let go of the struggle, usually after grieving the loss of vitality, we discover our ability to feel whole even with a strained body.

Additionally, there is usually a hidden message in an illness (i.e. such as a lessening of the pull of a performance ethic); moreover, we may indeed move, as the Apostle Paul did, closer to our spiritual center, namely our connection to God.

(Dr. John Campbell is a semi-retired citizen of Brevard)


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