Yes, I called you a warrior because that’s exactly how I have come to view people dealing with chronic illness. These warriors display courage in the face of fear and the uncertainty that is a constant part of their life. They retain their compassion and propensity to look for good in the world despite being mistreated or ostracized by others. They smile through the pain and make jokes to help put everyone at ease when they are imploding inside. They become familiar with emotions and experiences many people may only see once or twice in their lifetime.
But unfortunately, warriors can also feel like a burden from time to time. Whether that feeling is prompted by the insensitive comment of a family member or a misinformed post of a Facebook friend, it can get us at our core. It harshly whispers, “You are not adequate. You are different in a bad way. All that you are and all that you are able to do is not enough for the people you love and the society you live in.”
But in those low moments, we must challenge that negative way of thinking. We must not let the misguided views of a few take up residence in our subconscious. There’s a wonderful quote by the author Max Lucado that sums it up perfectly: “You are valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.” These words imply we are all inherently worthy, because we’re all human beings. And that is a truth we should believe in.
It’s a reality that we will feel inadequate or burdensome at points throughout our journey, but what’s important is how we respond to those feelings. Unfortunately, we live in a society that says if we can’t do what everyone else can do, we are somehow less. People often forget we didn’t choose the hand we were dealt—it was chosen for us. Judgment is freely passed on people who aren’t viewed as “active, contributing members of society.” But what they don’t understand is we have other ways of contributing to the greater good. Sometimes, it’s just by being who we are.
Don’t waste a precious minute feeling like a burden. If we could change our situations, we would. Instead, let’s advocate for one another and show people how wrong they are. And if the word “burden” somehow weasels its way into our heads, may we always quickly replace it with “warrior.”