How I cultivated joy and peace amid health challenges
Choosing contentment keeps me grounded in life with CF and transplant
“I don’t understand how you were laughing when all I wanted to do was cry,” my sister said, referring to the time before my double-lung transplant six years ago.
In March 2017, I went into respiratory failure due to complications of cystic fibrosis (CF). I was transported to Boston where I was listed for new lungs and was the sickest I’d ever been. Even though my circumstances left me chained to high-flow oxygen, unable to leave my hospital room for weeks, and fighting for my life, I distinctly remember experiencing the deepest joy and peace I’d ever known. It didn’t make sense to feel those emotions while I was dying.
But that’s the moment when God became so real to me. I found that in surrendering everything to God, I released any attachment to the outcome. I was doing my best to fight for my life, and I left the rest in God’s hands. This granted me the opportunity to be present during painful moments, while experiencing unexpected peace and unshakable joy.
It dawned on me what I can control in my life. I learned that the way I approach my circumstances determines the state of my innermost being. My attitude is my decision. I get to choose my outlook on life and how I respond to the challenges that chronic illness throws at me.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t grieve losses, have tear-filled moments, and struggle sometimes to get through the day. I allow myself to feel tough emotions instead of repressing them.
I do lean into joy and peace, knowing they can guide me. My circumstances don’t get the final say or dictate my emotional temperature.
Why I continue to choose joy
I’ve witnessed some people who have chosen bitterness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s valid. Life is hard when our health is out of our hands. I’ve had to fight against feeling bitter about what CF has stolen from me. But I know that I can’t live there; it’s not good for my mental health.
I’ve had to ask myself some hard questions, like “How do I want to live?” I realized that I don’t want to spend my time wishing for a different life. I want to soak up every moment of the life I’ve been given because time is precious. I have to choose joy and give thanks for every opportunity.
Joy can be used as a tool when life matters are challenging beyond comprehension and feel impossible to endure. My joy is present regardless of my circumstances. It anchors me in the truth that hard seasons don’t last forever.
Regardless of what I’m going through now, the season when I was dying reminds me of what’s possible when I fully surrender to God. Even in those hard moments, I can be at peace with what is while walking confidently toward an unknown future. Contentment keeps me grounded, even when health crises arise.
I know it’s a miracle to be alive, and I’m focused on reveling in the second chance that my new lungs have given me. In some ways, experiencing this level of peace doesn’t make sense, but it also makes perfect sense when I consider the gift my organ donor gave me. I can’t help but dance with joy at this life I get to live.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.