Often one of my friends will say, “How are you feeling today?” in the hope of hearing me say, “I’m super.” But my usual response is, “I’m in pain, but that’s OK.” You see, I suffer from a chronic illness.

Can you imagine being in pain all the time? Does that seem impossible? Unbearable? Welcome to my life. I’m constantly in pain. My chronic illness is called endometriosis, which is a condition where tissue that’s similar to the lining of the uterus is dispersed throughout the body. Pelvic pain, fatigue and weakness are the top symptoms I face, but there are a plethora of others.

If you know me, you know I don’t talk about my illness. At all. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. If you saw me walking to class, eating in the dining common or hanging out with friends, you wouldn’t even know my health is unstable. I want to try to live a normal life and not allow my illness to affect my academic, social or home life. But it does. Sometimes I can’t attend class because the pain is too much. Sometimes I can’t go hang out because I can’t walk. And sometimes I can’t talk to friends because my medication has affected my thought-processing ability.

One way I try to stay positive with health issues circling around is by joking about my illness or using sarcasm. I even named my illness “Kevin.” My friends and I treat my illness almost like a little brother. We tell it to “Be quiet,” “go away” or “leave Chloe’ alone.” While this may seem insensitive at first, when you have a chronic illness you have to learn to use creative measures to cope with it.

I’m graduating this May, and God has taught me many lessons through my chronic illness over the last four years. 

First, I have to depend on God. I can’t let myself think that I can do it on my own because I honestly can’t.

Second, God provided great friends to help me. I could write a novel on the number of times my friends have cared for me when my chronic illness flared up. God has given me friends to rely on, and I’m so thankful for them. I’m far from my family, so it’s a comfort to have close friends for support.

Third, prayer is real and powerful. There have been times during my school years when I thought I might have to drop out because of my illness. I’ve learned to pray with passion and with the belief that God will answer my prayer.

And finally, have a good attitude. I know it’s hard on some days to be content with a chronic illness. Believe me, I’ve been a grouchy sick person before. But what kind of testimony is that? God gave me my illness for a reason. He has a purpose for my life.

God has taught me many lessons, but those four stand out in my mind. If you’re suffering from a chronic illness, know that God cares for you and loves you.

Use your physical weakness to be a testimony of God’s goodness. You’ll be amazed at the kind of testimony you’ll be to others.