What You Don't See
Updated: Feb 27, 2018
by Amanda Steyer
When you look at this picture, you may see two people standing on the top of a mountain and the beautiful view of the lakes down below. You may notice that I am wearing gloves. And if you look even closer, you might notice crutches between my husband and I, resting on the rock. What you don't see is the amount of pain and exhaustion I'm feeling while standing there, even after rest, water, and a healthy snack.
You don't see the extreme struggle I went through to get to the top of that mountain nor the number of times I wanted to give up. You don't see the pain in my knees, which I was told to get replaced twenty years ago or the agonizing spasms in my back due to the damage already done by psoriatic arthritis and spondylitis. You don't see the suffocating ache in my chest from costochondritis; or the deep, deep emotions in the accomplishment of making it to the top. You don't see the amount of medication coursing through my veins that made this possible, nor the days of recuperation required afterward.
There are many people living with "invisible illnesses." I am one of them. Most people who see me walking without assistance or see photos of me standing at the top of mountains, assume I'm able bodied. Not even those closest to me can really fathom the amount of pain and exhaustion I experience on a good day, never mind a bad day. I have become expert at acting as if I'm not in pain. I can put a smile on my face and keep on moving through it most days.
What you also don't see, is the gratitude my illnesses brought into my life or how even as I've become increasingly ill, my life has improved in many ways.
I am thankful.
I am thankful for each step I take; for my crutches and wheelchair that allow me even more freedom than my own two legs. I'm thankful for needing to slow down which helped me find things I can do that feed my soul and energize me. I'm thankful for the ability to let go of things that don't serve me and my family well. I'm also thankful for pain and exhaustion because they point me in the right direction ... toward the alive-and-present God who guides my steps and dwells within me.
Amanda is a wife, unschooling mama to five children, writer, and over-volunteerer. She strives to live life to the fullest despite chronic pain and illness, through God's guidance and grace and a good sense of humor. She blogs at: http://rannygahoots.blogspot.com