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Value is defined as the usefulness of something.

The worth of something is how we rate that value.

People define value and worth in their own lives differently because every one of us has a different idea of what the costs and benefits are to the things that we either find worthy or don’t find worthy.

We rate value in our life through the lens of our individual experiences.

And for me, since my diagnosis of sarcoidosis, these are concepts I find myself struggling to redefine.

My value and my worth used to come in large part from my work…from my career. When my career ended as my disease needed full time management I lost a part of me. Most people have time to prepare for retirement…even look forward to it. I did not.

I never expected to retire at the age of 43. It’s been a little over a year now. And in that time, I have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity I needed to heal physically from the stress. Leaving my career has helped my health. I cannot deny this. It did not cure my chronic condition but it has slowed its progression. I am sure of this.

Yet despite these much needed physical gains, I am still at a loss emotionally. At first this created a feeling of doom. I am working my way through it now though and what I realize is that it does not have to be so bleak.

I can learn to redefine value and worth in my life and if I really think about it, I can see that even though I am not sure what the future holds for me, I am already well on my way to finding a new me.

What I realize is that I can define myself by more than just one thing. And, I don’t have to let just one thing, whatever that thing might be, dominate my life in order to define me.

I have, in some ways been happier not working, even in a state of confusion about how to define myself. I think this comes from feeling better physically due to decreased work stress. And, who doesn’t want that in their life? Decreased stress of any kind is a good thing no mater how you slice it!

Removing this stress has allowed me see that I should probably have defined value and worth in my life outside of my career a long time ago. But, this is hard to do when you are caught up in the day to day drudgery of work responsibilities.

I had a wonderful career. I enjoyed it immensely. And, I had the opportunity to effect positive changes in the lives of people in need during my working years. This was a huge reward for the never ending stress, and was what drove me during the most difficult times of my career.

As an administrator, I not only effected positive changes in the lives of customers and clients, but also in the lives of the staff I supervised. I was known affectionately as, “Boss Lady” or “Boss.” I was available to my customers and my staff at all hours and they knew it.

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So, when you are that immersed in your work, it can be easy to allow it to define you without even realizing it…until one day, a day not of your own choosing, it is all taken away from you.

So that’s what happened to me because of my sarcoidosis. I have grieved this loss as I would the loss of a dear friend or family member, and I have at times been emotionally adrift because of it.

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But you know the old and overused expression, “When one door closes another opens”? Well, I think this is probably true, but there is a gray, uncertain period in between the two doors. I think it takes time some times to find the open door you are now supposed to walk through.

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Yet I believe once I find it and once I do this, I will be able to confidently redefine value and worth in my life…until then I will wait on somewhat shaking ground but I will hold fast to my faith that the path for me will be made clear in time.