Lupus and Work, Wealth and Wisdom
Benjamin Franklin’s well-known words include the idea that early to bed, and early to rise can make us healthy, wealthy and wise. He may have over-stated the value of sleep a bit when it comes to achieving results such as wealth and wisdom. Perhaps with lupus such expectations are exceedingly high and lofty. Most days, I awake thanking God for the ability to just get up, and go to work — at all!
Even so, I battle recurring temptations to have false guilt about the generous ADA accommodation I receive permitting my flexible work schedule. I know in the front of my rational thought I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I still do. The battle is mostly subconscious, but continues to bubble up into the front of my thoughts unexpectedly. My ambiguous feelings of conflicting gratefulness and guilt simply recur, despite my efforts to reconcile them.
Many of my thoughts about lupus, and the complex and interrelated ways it affects my life are probably subconscious. Each time I contemplate lupus, working and the demands of my schedule and life responsibilities, these wisps of thought are there too. For a few hours after waking and sipping that first cup of morning coffee in bed, sometimes a quiet multi-level conversation arises in my mind.
This silent chatter accompanies me through my mornings, as I plod along through a daily ritual of summoning body, reflexes and cognitive thought back into a reasonably functional state. Often the flow of subconscious thoughts about lupus – its blessings and battles – gurgle up through my focused, conscious thoughts to become part of my audible conversations, poetry and prayers.
Perhaps, other patients talk to themselves, too, with thoughts similar to a few of my own ramblings…
Conscious: I’ve got to get ready for work.
Subconscious: More coffee! My mind is really foggy this morning. Don’t forget to take medications. Get them now, don’t procrastinate! I’d better stay home until my brain clears up some more! What if it won’t clear up soon enough? I’ll be really late again! Maybe I will have to miss the whole day this time. Is it too soon to drive safely? Toughen up, girl, just get going! Remember, early to bed and early to rise! Yeah, right!
How do other people get going so early? What would it feel like to wake up clear-headed? It hurts to think through this murky brain of mine. Pull it together! I’ve got to find some clothes to lay out before my shower. I hate being late! It would feel good to be early today and surprise everyone. Quit that wishful thinking, girl, and get to exercising! Focus now, come on, I’ve got to get going. I don’t want to be late today! Lord, please help me be on time today!
Conscious: I am so grateful for my ADA accommodation letting me start work at mid-morning.
Subconscious: What would I do without this schedule? I know, ADA’s the law. They are supposed to accommodate me. But they do it willingly. I am so glad! If it wasn’t the law, would my employer want to give me this schedule accommodation? Maybe not! Maybe so! What would I do if I had a different job? Would any other bosses really work with me around my lupus? I’m not so sure they would. Would they give me a hard time? I would hope not.
What if I changed jobs, would the new employer give me the same accommodation? What if I had to try going to work as early as “normal” people do? Could I hide my brain fog? What if they wanted me to go to morning meetings and talk intelligently? Quit worrying about “what ifs”! I have to trust the Lord he has given me this job.
I wonder if anyone knows that Monday morning status meetings were a big reason I left my last job? I never want to be forced to interact with “morning people” under stress like that again! Did they really expect people to remember all those details on Monday mornings? Those morning case status meetings were painful!
Could I drive to work safely every day if I had to leave early? No way, that would be dangerous! Would I be liable if I caused an accident because of brain fog? Isn’t brain fog considered impairment? Brain fog wouldn’t be a good excuse for causing an accident. Could I do it if I had to? Maybe! Every day? Probably not! That would be extremely difficult!
I can do whatever God calls me to do! Lord, help me focus on today, and not worry about tomorrow.
Conscious: I feel uncomfortable walking in so late every morning, compared to everyone else.
Subconscious: What do people think about why I arrive at work later than they do? I wish I could think clearer in the mornings! Do they think I am just lazy? I hope not. It must feel like I am getting special treatment. I hope no one resents it! I wonder if my co-workers understand how rough mornings are for me because of lupus? Maybe they think I am slacking off and just want to sleep in. Does my boss get grief about my schedule? I hope not. Do co-workers or my subordinates complain? I’m sure some of them do.
I know the ADA says to accommodate my lupus. I hope they aren’t getting tired of it. Am I really worth the bother to them? I hope so! Is it a pain for my assistant to set meetings around my special schedule? It must be hard to work around my mornings. Does my schedule erode my coworkers’ respect for me? What does my assistant really think about it? It must take great patience sometimes. I need to make sure I show how grateful I am.
Am I feeling a little guilty? Yeah, probably. Wait, why am I feeling guilty? Cut out the false guilt, and stand up straight! Where is my poise and confidence? Thank God for His goodness regarding this job! I know I take a “hit” for not being here early. It is hard to supervise people when I am not here yet. Put on your brave face. Walk in with confidence. Don’t let them see your fear. I have to exercise faith. Lord, help me trust you. I don’t want to fail because of my limitations. Lord, help me handle my responsibilities well today!
Most mornings, I strive to prepare physically and spiritually before venturing out. The persistent mental chatter is quieted by gentle exercise and a few minutes of quiet, perspective-setting bible reading and prayer. This helps turn my focus upward, outward, forward and optimistic. Coping with lupus for me means getting my thoughts disciplined to look at others, and to get my mind off myself. This helps me shift my attention from how I feel physically, to give attention to the needs and responsibilities I have toward others.
A thoughtful beginning to my day helps me cope better with my daily challenges, and perhaps helps me gain a drop more wisdom to apply to the adventures ahead.
While early to bed and early to rise may make me healthier, I believe God is the One who graciously helps me be equipped to work, make a living and lets me borrow his wisdom along the way. Unlike Mr. Franklin, I am simply not convinced that good sleep habits alone will give me that!
Daily, my need for God’s mercy, grace, wisdom, help and strength loom great. His ample supply flows abundantly to my aid.
Biblical perspectives I like to ponder
Nehemiah 8:10 “For this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Proverbs 24:33-34 “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”