‘The Beauty of Pain’ by Judy Dillard: Dillard’s experience and practical advice for Christians living with chronic illness

Published 10:12 pm Saturday, August 2, 2008

“…I whispered aloud, ‘I wonder if there will ever be a day when I am not consumed with Lupus.’ Instantly I fell asleep for the first time in three days.

As soon as I fell asleep, I began to dream. In my dream, I was with Jesus. I did not physically see Him but I was aware of the fact that we were going somewhere together. We arrived in a labor and delivery room. I could see every detail of the room; the pattern of the floor tile, the equipment, the hospital bed, everything was amazingly real. There was a woman on the bed travailing in hard labor. For just a moment, I watched her struggle to give birth. She was sweating profusely, her hair was soaking wet and she was obviously in tremendous pain. Still, I was aware of Jesus by my side. At that point He said to me, ‘Sometimes, Judy, there has to be pain before there can be beauty.’”

Judy L. Dillard of Picayune suffers a tremendous amount of pain everyday and she truly feels that it is her faith that has encouraged the writing of her book and, most importantly, what keeps her alive. She wants to share her experience of living with a chronic illness, not just with those who suffer physical pain, but with those who suffer any pain. She feels her book can help anyone begin their emotional healing.

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Born and raised in Picayune, Dillard was living a normal life until she went into kidney failure in 1999. It was then that the doctors began to suspect that Dillard had an autoimmune disease, but her illness would not get diagnosed as Lupus until as recently as two years ago in April.

With her diagnosis, and the unbelievable pain she began to experience as the disease started to attack her major organs, not just Dillard’s life, but her whole identity got turned upside down.

No longer was she able to do all of the things that made her who she was — teach Sunday school, work as a practical nurse in the Picayune/Pearl River County school districts, etc. Everything she used to do, the things that made her who she was, were things she could no longer do.

Dillard feels she went through a grieving process — anger, sadness, depression, hurt. “I held on to my job as long as I could. Finally I accepted that my life was changed,” she said but hopefully added, “God used [Lupus] to open other doors for me.”

Leaning on her family and her church family of First Pentecostal in Picayune, Dillard found a very supportive group, but as she explained, there are some places that even those that are closest to her cannot go. In her darkest times and especially when the Lupus began to attack her brain, it was her faith that led her through the darkness and back into the light of life.

Dillard wrote “Beauty of Pain” to share her personal experience so that others can find their own light. “I don’t think it’s just for the chronically ill, I almost regret putting that in the title,” she said. She feels like her book is for anybody who is experiencing any type of pain, physical or emotional.

“Beauty of Pain: My experience and practical advice for Christians with chronic illness” is being sold locally at Melinda’s Fine Gifts, Count Your Blessings and First Pentecostal Church. It is also available online with Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Dillard is planning to do local book signings in the future.

In this, her first book, Dillard is challenging the reader to find beauty in the midst of their pain.