Open Letter to Men with Chronic Illness

Dear Conqueror,

I know you may not feel like it right now, but that title applies to you; it’s well-earned, and it’s one that I think you need to hear. You are a conqueror, a leader, God's battle axe in the world. You have purpose. You have strength. You have dignity.

You're also not alone. Around the world millions of us are navigating this journey of life with illness too, and we’re walking it together. I’ll say it again because there’s healing in these words — you’re not alone.

And we really do understand what you’re going through. We know what it's like to feel weak and broken down when your body can't perform tasks that other guys can. We understand the toll that an average day can cause to your system. We know what it is to push ourselves too hard, and pay for it as a result. And just like you sometimes we feel like we aren't as much of a leader or a man as our able-bodied friends.

However, we also know that we still have value. We know that we are still called to great purpose. We know that we are still leaders both in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. We are relentlessly fighting and pushing forward; striving and giving our very best, and you're no different.

Friend, your illness doesn’t cheapen your manhood. Nor does it define your masculinity.

Banding together with others doesn't make you weak or defeated; it makes you stronger and more courageous.

So it’s with enormous wells of common ground that we stand together in this community, this tribe, this family. From all over the globe, we boldly band together as men of great courage; men whose character is made only more honorable, noble, tried and true through our illnesses. We stand, steadily ridding our communities of stigma, and proving time and again that hope can take its place. Most importantly, we stand together, and together we are as bold as lions.

I want to tell you that it's okay to need rest. It's okay that you get tired quicker than your friends. It’s okay to need a nap to get through the day. It's okay to not be able to go to the gym. It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry and be frustrated. But always know that your value isn’t dependent on those things. Your value isn't determined by how far you can throw a football, how much weight you can deadlift, or even how manly you feel. Rather it's defined by what God says about you, and He says that you're more than a conqueror, a leader, chosen, elect, called, and given purpose.

As a man whose strength has been grown at the hands of chronic illness, I know firsthand that our strength goes far beyond anything physical. Who we are goes far beyond our bodies. Who we are goes far beyond anything three dimensional or tangible. Friend, who you are is something so unique and individual to you; brimming with purpose, and rich with potential.

And with your purpose clear in mind, I want to challenge you to not let your illness create a label so strong over your life that it brands you with a hindered identity or stifles you with self-doubt.

You are here on this earth at this very moment for something great. You were born and equipped for such a time as this. When we realize that; when we accept that, we begin to walk with a humble confidence. We are able to lead and be led. We are able to achieve our purpose. We are able to walk in every moment of every day with confidence, even if our bodies aren't cooperating. 

Be exceptional, and be bold because the very core of who you are as a man is a victor and a champion.

Sincerely,

Sam, a fellow man with chronic illness