Over the last few years, as I’ve been recovering, my thinking has really shifted in terms of how I viewed my illness and my recovery. At first I focused a lot on the physical side. Being a trainer and general movement outdoor freak, this clearly was the answer. I was fortunate enough to have some incredible people come along side me at certain times of my recovery, who would just listen and gently suggest things, but I know overall were simply praying and waiting to see me come through it all. Part of this, “coming through it” was to change the way I saw myself and treated myself – after all you don’t just get CFS/AF, it happens due to stress, life circumstances and more importantly the way you handle them and yourself. I came to realise that my choices and actions had great consequences and it wasn’t that God wasn’t there with me in them, as actually he meets us where we are at and takes us to where we should be. He wanted that change but I needed to recognise that in myself first. It was through these experiences of realisation that I one needed to be kinder on myself with self love, two, that I had people come along side and love me and three, that God wanted to take me to where I should and could be. It was in these times that I started to think upon these three words.
Sure pretty generic, and in all honesty strong candidates for “Christianese” (for those not familiarly with that term you will be in language. Just think any cheesy Christian sign, slogan you’ve seen). None the less, they work and they were the words that kept resonating in my mind.
There seemed to be connections and movement between the three words. I realised that as I started to believe in myself, in who I’m made to be, the more self love I gave myself through self acceptance, self appreciation and self worth I started to see that I wasn’t a misfit and in fact I do belong. However, belonging is different to trying to “fit in” (I know I’ve spent too long trying to do that) rather it is about being yourself first and foremost. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely people, friendship groups and situations we all feel more relaxed in where we can “be more ourselves”, but when we have the freedom within us and the knowledge of how worthy and lovely we are – as is – it becomes easier to belong in any situation.
Then I noticed that as I belonged, not only to myself but to a group of loving friends, I started to become more of who I am. I started to become. That self-acceptance and self-worth I gave myself helped me to feel I could belong, and in many different contexts. But when I found a group of people who gently loved me and accepted me I started to become even more of who I was. People can walk along side you and support you but it’s only us individually who can take these steps of change.