Choosing to Walk in Forgiveness

Rena Newman avatar

by Rena Newman |

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Greetings, friends. I was just bawling because “Hard Candy Christmas” played on the car radio, and now I have extra smudgy, smeary smoky eyes. Uh-oh, I need to wipe and blow my nose, but I don’t have any Kleenex. I guess I’ll have to use this polka-dot cloth sunglass case.

Hold on. Whoa, my face feels tight. Did someone sneak into my house and give me a Botox injection while I was sleeping last night? Never mind, I reckon it’s my scleroderma, which is now causing the tissue on one side of my face to start shrinking. I have no idea what my Sjögren’s syndrome has been up to.

Well, buckle up, buttercups. We are taking a hard right. This column is about walking in forgiveness.

grace | Sjögren’s Syndrome News | A Christmas-themed word search that includes key words from Rena's column, such as "grace," "Batman slap," and "Cocoa Puffs."

“Word Search — Walking in Forgiveness.” (Courtesy of Derrian Childress)

‘Aw, bless your pea-pickin’ heart’

As my health deteriorates, I’m finding that many people’s boundary violations and overall meanness toward me are increasing. How naive of me to think I’d receive more compassion and empathy!

I’m typically calm, patient, and not easily offended, so it was a bit alarming this week when I started to fantasize about Batman slapping people, or warning others that I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and may or may not bite them.

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Look, I confess I’ve been a little hot under the collar lately. I’m feeling anger and many other emotions, and that’s OK. I’m just being cautious because I don’t want to become an angry, bitter person. Out of all the struggles I’ve faced with chronic illness, so far, walking in forgiveness each day and not losing myself have been the biggest challenges.

2 important things

I’ve decided I need to focus on setting boundaries consistently in a healthy way, while remaining in forgiveness. I get too tired and have the added complication of difficulties with my social cues, but I know doing this more will help decrease the chance of overthinking and allowing things to fester.

I’m also choosing to pray to forgive every offense, even when I absolutely don’t feel like it. I may not have control over how illness affects my body or how others act, but I do have control over my own heart, and I am not allowing anyone to harden it or take my peace away from me. Period. End of story/column/ride.

We have reached our destination. Please watch your step upon exiting.

Below is an original song I wrote about forgiveness, if anyone is interested in listening.

Take care, and much love to you all.

I would love to hear how you are all doing. I hope this column is helpful somehow. Please feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below.


Note: Sjögren’s Syndrome News 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 Sjögren’s Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sjögren’s syndrome.


Donna A McLaughlin avatar

Donna A McLaughlin

Totally understand not allowing others to change my heart. I look fine.

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Donna, thanks for commenting. Hope you had a good Christmas and Happy New Year

Terri Carter avatar

Terri Carter

Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. You have been an inspiration to me. I was diagnosed with Sjogren's about 10 months ago and your newsletters have helped me just when I needed a lift or to stop feeling sorry for myself. My mother has had Sjogren's for about 18 years now and I used to pray I never had to go through what she does. I will say I have been blessed by having someone to talk to who truly understands the struggles first hand. I pray every day that there is a cure for this illness.

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Thank you <3 Blessings to you and your mom

Trish avatar


I completely get it. But some days it's hard. My fiance' of nearly one year just broke up with me on Christmas because he's "tired of me being sick all the time." (I had the stomach flu, which of course, caused a flare up.) Seriously? I'm trying to hold it together, but I'm struggling. People just don't understand. If I hear, well just exercise and eat right and you'll be fine one more time ... choose forgiveness ... choose forgiveness... choose forgiveness...

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

I'm sorry to hear that. Praying for you. Thanks for sharing

ann rogers avatar

ann rogers

Terri, what are the main problems you are experiencing with Sjogren's at this point. I found out I have it about a year or so ago. I have of course experienced the dry mouth, seriously it's just awful! Also have the dry, "flaky" skin, and experience short term memory lapses...start to say something and completely loose my train of thought?? Is this normal for you also, my doctor is basically being no help at all, prescribed Pilocarpine and sent me on my way! After I read the details on this medicine I have not taken it!!

Peg Weir avatar

Peg Weir

Hi Rena,
Your essay. is spectacular. I so enjoyed the reading and listening to your song. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I hope you choose to continue to walk in forgiveness. Take good care, Hugs, Peg

Adriana avatar


Your words resonate with me. I was diagnosed with Sjogren's and Raynaud's over 20 yrs. ago. It was a year after recovering from Thyroid cancer surgery. It was a relief to finally get a diagnosis with the many strange and aggravating symptoms, although it was still a shock. I was prescribed Plaquenil however it caused a terrible allergic reaction, and so my specialist recommended I quit my job as a teacher, stay home, and lead a 'no stress' life as much as possible. He was trying to be kind.
At times I have felt misunderstood. It's too exhausting trying to explain everything. Impossible really. I always knew that God loved me and the importance of prayer and forgiveness. I agree with you about choices. I can choose how I want to respond. I do not want a spirit of cynicism, bitterness or anger to take a foothold. It's a waste of precious time and life giving energy. I will choose to pray for myself and others, even in the midst of sadness and feeling judged. There is always hope and faith.
So Thank you for your lovely column which is new to me! I appreciate you writing and sharing from your heart!:))xo

Araceli Perez avatar

Araceli Perez

Thank you for sharing this helpful and relieving article. I’m new to all this Sjögren business. I am still recovering from an “onset”. These are the new attitudes you just showed me I can emulate(I need to see others in order to understand me now) you’ve just showed me compassion for myself (it’s ok) accepting others(forgiving) I’m still navigating this lopsided ship I’m in .
Much love,

Sally in Washington

Re McCafferty avatar

Re McCafferty

This is so rough. I had to stop working and almost stop living. I have an extremely bad case of sjorens which affects my mouth when I try to sleep the most. The total time I can sleep without waking with my mouth clamped shut is 20 minutes. It almost requires a crow bar to open to breath even though I have my nose that closes also. I thought I had sleep apenea. I have tried everything from Biotene toothpaste, biotene mouth rinse, vitaman E oral spray, vasuline, Smart wash , etc. Because I cannot get a night with a continuous 4 to 5 hours sleep I fall asleep anywhere at anytime. Initially I saw an ENT who referred me to a rheumotologist who told me she only has one medication in her bag of tricks for me which I will not be able to tolerate due to my other conditions. She suggested I find a specialist more familiar with this rare auto immune disease. I am open to try anything because my quality of life is sad.

Joy avatar


It took thirty four years to get diagnosis of Sjogrens. Ten years on and I still have difficulty in finding a health professional who is prepared to listen or discuss. A very good consultant, but I feel I have to drag information out of him..

I am the one who gets hurt when trying to get answers. I am not going down that route again. Rely on websites like this for clarification.

Taking on board forgiving myself.

Kathy Wiechert avatar

Kathy Wiechert

Wow, your words have really hit home, especially the section on setting boundaries. I think it's also a great idea to set boundari3s with our so3cialist. Once they dismiss my illness as being all in my head, they are immediately dropped from my "wellness team", and as we all know, it takes a village (team of specialists) to treat every symptom that SS keeps on giving


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