Monday, October 25, 2010

You don't look sick!

Even "Godly" words, from Godly people hurt us sometimes...
"You don't look sick." How many of us have had those words uttered to them? I too, have had some variation of that said to me, but I think they mean well (I know, I'm too optimistic at times). Even Godly words from Godly people hurt us sometimes. There may be a scripture they have taken to heart and they truly believe is it pertinent to your situation, but when it's delivered, all it manages to do is evoke hurt, or a time for us (who do this sort of thing) to look down on our internal strength and be displeased with ourselves for not being able to muster up the "faith" it takes to be healed. They mean for the words to be helpful.  I know some of you are laughing right now at that thought, but I do really think that people, in their "deep down", don't mean to be mean when they say things of that nature. We have to be patient with the people around us who don't understand if we ever expect them to be patient with us.

Sure, there are people who really think I'm faking. There are people who think I must just be "overly sensitive".  Some have accused me (behind my back of course) of being less sick than I claim to be, or just depressed. People in their attempt to help have stated that, "You need to get serious with God." or  "Don't you believe that God will heal you?" Something inside my heart has to believe that they speak out of complete ignorance and therefore I have to have Godly (not Heatherly) patience with them. I, after all, am human and cannot muster up enough of my own patience to deal with them.

Just like anything we go through, other people cannot know the pain, torrment or hurt it has caused you. You are the only one who knows the condition you are truly in.
"Well, you didn't act sick yesterday." Is another common phrase that comes up.  Maybe I didn't look sick or act like I felt bad. Maybe, I was using every bit of strength I had in me to put up a front for you... OR, maybe I WAS feeling pretty good yesterday. If you are reading this and you do not have this thing called Fibro, you must understand that many of us have good days and bad days. We don't choose when we will have either, and a good day can turn into a bad day and vice versa. There are some days that a cloud settles over my body and mind and it takes everything in me to just function as a "normal" human being.  There are a variety of illnesses that have that type of affect.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one that sometimes overlaps Fibro, and the people who have that will experience good days and bad days. 

Most of us do not know what triggers a "bad day", therefore, we cannot keep from having one. There are some of us who know that they cannot have certain things or be around certain things or there will be hell to pay.  There are some days that the mere smell of smoke on someone who had a cigarette two and a half hours ago will trigger a migraine in me. Other days, I can survive going into the local cigarette shop to buy a pizza... Yes, welcome to small town life!

Ok, I am beginning to feel like this post is a bit "preachy or whiny", and I don't want that. I know that the people who say these things don't mean to hurt us with their words. I know that there are people out there that really do "like" being sick and the sympathy that's attached to that. I know that there is a great deal of misunderstanding and uneducated-ness that follows a lot of diseases.  So, what do I want to get across in this post? First, I guess I want people who are dealing with this stuff to understand they are not alone, and there are people who do care and understand what they are going through. Second, I want people who have loved ones going through this to grasp hold of some general knowledge and understanding.

The bible tells us in Ephesians 4:1 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

We have to learn how to interact with people and what turns them away from one another. If I know that I am going to be bombarded with healing scripture and a "word from the Lord" every time I see one certain person, I am tempted to run the other way when I see them coming. If I know that I am going to be bombarded with love, acceptance and a gentle or uplifting word when I see a certain someone, I am tempted to seek them out on a regular basis. The bible doesn't tell us to interact with people in a harsh way, or tell them how to fix their issues.  The bible does tell us to be patient, humble and kind with each other. To forgive wrongs, to turn the other cheek, to bear one another's burdens, to have empathy for those who are struggling.

There are times when it's necessary, and God ordained, for us to deliver criticism or correction to one of our bothers or sisters, but when they are weak or hurting or dealing with an ongoing issue... It's time to love and support.

The world will know that we belong to Christ if we love one another. At least that's what Jesus said, so I am inclined to believe it was important to apply it to my life.  I'm not perfect and I don't claim to be! I don't always love people like I should. We must start making that a priority in our lives. No, we can't tap dance around on eggshells so we don't hurt some one's feelings, but we should be mindful, considerate, and not belittle others for any reason.

What do you say when people don't understand?

I used to argue with people when they would tell me something they were sure would "fix" me. They would give me a verse that was supposed to instill in me a determination to make myself well, or let God make me well. I would go home, look up verses that countered their opinion or that showed that not everyone gets healed, and be ready the next time they came at me. It wasn't that I didn't want to be healed, because I do. It wasn't that I didn't believe that He can heal me, because He can! It was that I didn't think He did heal everyone. I don't think it's in His will for some of us to be without our burden until we find ourselves in Heaven.  This is a fallen world we live in, and things are sometimes pretty crappy. After all, Paul pleaded three times for a burden to be lifted from him, and God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Wow! If Paul, the man who started the Christian church as we know it, wasn't healed... Well, all I have to say about that is, I am in good company. I will try to be patient, I will try to "boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2Corinthians 12:8-10)

Fortunately, my wonderful husband believes me and although he cannot possibly imagine what I personally feel like, he does try to be empathetic.  I, in turn try to realize what it must be like to be married to someone who never know what she is going to feel like, and hurts like she's getting the flu. That's what we need to do for each other! You can assume all day long what's going on in someone else's body, mind, heart, spirit, but you cannot know until you walk around in their skin.

So, I hope I haven't made anyone angry or upset. I don't want anyone to think that I don't appreciate words given that are meant to uplift or exhort. I am so thankful that I have a church family that loves and supports me. They have proven that fact so many times in my life and I am proud to be called part of their family.

If you don't have a church home or a group of people that you can depend on, I encourage you to seek them out. Church, so often, has a bad name because of hurts that us mere humans have caused others. It took several tries for me to find the place that God wanted me, and I can't say that I haven't been hurt in the church where I am, but I remind myself that we are all in the process of growing up. I can't expect them to be patient with me if I'm not patient with them!

I hope you all have a blessed day, that you are pain free and energy rich! I also hope that you are able to take a look at the world God has painted for us and be amazed by the wonder that we take for granted every day.

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  1. This is the post from you that I have been waiting for. I never know what to say when my Christian friends tell me that I just need to "believe" and my pain will disappear. You explained the situation perfectly. From now on, I am just going to steer them to your blog.

    I love God and God loves me. My fibro and CFS have nothing to do with that. Fibro can wrack my body but it can't touch my soul!

  2. This was a great definitely have a way with words my dear friend :)

  3. Donna, Sometimes I just smile and say, "Thanks for your input." I'd love you to steer ANY ONE to my blog. lol, but if it helps them understand that would be wonderful!

  4. Hi Heather! This was a wonderful post and something each of us with chronic pain can easily relate to. I thank my dear Lord every day for helping me deal with what has been given to me. He isn't to blame...its just the world we live in. He is using you as his instrument to help others dealing with this or not understanding! Bless you! Love, Tory

  5. Donna, i just wanted to comment on your reply...isn't that a terrible thing for a Christian person to say to you? That's like saying a person stricken with cancer, MS or a baby born with autism just needs to believe and they will be healed??? This is not is a world filled with evil and hate and how we live our lives and handle situations is our testement to God. No one lives without some pain in this life due to the sin within it. But, with God in our hearts we can make it thru any situation and know that someday we will live in Heaven and this earthly life won't even be a memory. Keep the faith Fibro Frenz! Tory

  6. From one fibro sufferer to another, I hear you!!

  7. I read this post again today and have to say that its a great post. The post is truly a voice for us who suffer with fibro!! God bless