Sick Shaming No More?
July 16, 2015 | Posted in: chronic illness; support
This won’t be a popular post. I’m sure that it will ruffle a few feathers. And while that’s never my intention, I’m okay with it because I feel so strongly that these are words that need to be said.
If you know me at all you know that my heart’s desire is that while bearing the name of Christ we treat people well. I mean, YES, I always want us to treat people well. But, ESPECIALLY as those that claim to be image bearers of Christ I find it vitally important that we treat people WELL—all people. Rich people, poor people, broken people, successful people, likable people, jerks, SICK people.
As someone who watched my brother die of cancer and now someone who battles chronic illness, I have encountered more than my fair share of well-intentioned sick shaming amongst the body of Christ. It usually sounds something like this:
“But if you only had more faith”
“The sins of the Father fell upon the son”
“You must have spoken this into being”
“You just need to be more positive”
“The doctors will only make it worse, only prayer/natural methods/my product will heal you”
“If you had just been more active/eaten better/not gone there/stood on your head more”
In other words, “This is your fault.”
I feel like people are compelled to do this out of a need to ensure that the blame somehow lies with the affected party as a way to assure themselves this is a fate that they would never personally have to endure. They can know this for sure because they would never make those mistakes. THEY would have more faith. THEY would eat better, exercise more, etc. In this way, they believe that they can control their own lives, God, and the universe. And maybe it’s worked for them so far, so why wouldn’t they continue to believe that it’s sound thinking?
What do I believe?
I believe that we live in a fallen world. I believe that I have an immunodeficiency disorder with a mutated gene, half of which came from my Mom and half from my Dad. I believe that I got bit by a tick that gave me Lyme disease and a few other crappy gifts as a bonus. I believe that as a result of the Lyme settling in my joints, I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis. I believe the devil hates my guts and wants to destroy me. And all those things really suck. I also believe that the God I serve is bigger than all of those things. And whether my healing comes through the treatment I receive here on this earth with the help of doctors or by eating grass or through supernatural healing, whether it’s over time or instantaneous, or through death when I step into my heavenly body—I can live in victory right now, today. Because like the Apostle Paul, I can praise God while shackled until the ground shakes and my shackles fall right off. I can learn to be content in any state. I believe that in my weakness, his strength is perfect and he can be glorified.
What don’t I believe?
I do not believe that God made me sick. I do not believe that it’s God’s perfect will for me to be sick, but that if I will allow it he will work it together for my good and his glory. I do not believe I did anything wrong, that this is my fault or that I deserve to be shamed in any way. I do not believe that everyone has to agree with me for us to be friends, love each other, or minister together. I do not believe shaming people or kicking them while they are down (i.e. hurting, sick, broken in any way) helps or glorifies Christ. And I’m wondering if we could knock it off?
The bible says that faith is a gift that we’ve all been given a measure of. If you’ve been gifted with more than me, could you maybe praise Jesus for yours without looking down on me for mine, or even use yours on my behalf without being a jerk about it? I mean, as part of the body of Christ, is the jerk part really necessary?
If you were in the fight of your life, believing for healing, standing on God’s word—what would you want people to say to you? Would you want them to tell you that you deserved this because you didn’t have enough faith? Or would you maybe just want them to go in their prayer closet and loan you a little of theirs?
At the end of the day (or blog) all I’m saying is let love lead the way. Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you. Build up instead of tear down. And remember that good intentions don’t always lead to good outcomes.
And together, let’s bring sick shaming to an end.