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.

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14 Comments

  1. Kelly S
    July 16, 2015

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    Thank you for sharing your experience, Stacey. Let love lead the way!

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 16, 2015

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      Thanks for reading and for loving!

  2. Aundi
    July 16, 2015

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    Yes! This is courageous and true. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 16, 2015

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      Thanks for being a cheerleader to the broken!

  3. Terri
    July 16, 2015

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    I respect your honesty and boldness. We can say such hurtful things to one another. I don’t have a chronic illness but I can relate to the shame statements in other areas. Keep sharing.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 16, 2015

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      Terri, It never ceases to amaze me, the words that are spoken to the ones we love in an effort to “help” or under the guise of just being “honest.” When we read God’s word- ultimate truth, we want to come closer to Jesus. While we may be more aware of our shortcomings, we also know we are loved desired and celebrated. Any truth we are speaking should leave the recipient feeling the same way.

  4. Deidre
    July 16, 2015

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    Loved this! And love you! Such good words!

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 16, 2015

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      Thanks for reading and for the love!

  5. Erin
    July 16, 2015

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    Stacey- you are so brave! I know others who are chronically sick and get the same reaction. I don’t understand how people can be so supportive with short illnesses bUT so demeaning with chronic illness. Praying for relief for you! Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Stacey Philpot
    July 16, 2015

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    Erin, Maybe short illnesses aren’t a statement on your poor faith until they start happening too frequently?

  7. Michele
    July 16, 2015

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    Girl, I get it. Because I “got it”— autoimmune disease and it took six months to diagnose. If was a scary uncertain time that led me to the throne room where I’m usually hanging now that I know what I know. It changed my life. Although I’m making progress and receiving some healing, I have felt the sting of rejection, judgment and shaming. Some even from those closest to me, whose sting was painful and heartbreaking. The hardest part aside from all the opinions, is the assumptions made “but you SEEM ok”— well I’m not. But I KNOW my Redeemer lives- Amen??? No one understands the myriad of symptoms and pain I’ve experienced except a fellow sojourner that has “been through it.” I say- speak the truth! It sets us free but it will ruffle feather or it just may make someone… Think. Yay!
    Life includes suffering-Jesus promises He has overcome the world- that same power resides in us– to lead us through the fiery trials but our Lord is a giver-NOT a taker. He gives me strength to keep going. He gives me friends who love me unconditionally and He gives me resources to use for my betterment.

    I’m with you girl- and ADD let’s stop the shaming period. It’s not of God, it’s a lie, and it’s not our true inheritance.

  8. Stacey Philpot
    July 17, 2015

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    Michele, Preach! I’m about to get my hanky out and cheer you on!

  9. Jean Davis
    July 20, 2015

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    Stacey, do you include mental illnesses here? I used to suffer from depression pretty badly. It lasted about five years, during which I was told all the things you wrote as causes. The hardest was that I had a lack of faith. They told me I could rebuke my illness in the name of Jesus and it would be gone. Well, that’s not the way He decided to heal me. I felt as if they thought my illness wasn’t real. I thank the Lord now that He delivered me from this illness. I did learn and grow in the Lord through it all and am thankful for having gone through it with my Comforter, Counsellor, my Savior.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 20, 2015

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      Absolutely!!! You are so welcome here. Chronicallywhole is dedicated to those who are battling for health and discovering wholeness. That could be mental, physical or emotional. Thank you for reading and for sharing your story!

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