Chronic Lyme disease is not something that is easy to live with. I live in constant pain, I have very little energy, and my memory is getting worse everyday. Often I feel isolated and lonely. There are times I feel like crying because I just get so tired of living like this. Everyday I have to remind myself that this is all for a purpose. That God is using it in my life for His will, and His glory, and that this is all part of His plan to help me grow in my walk and become closer to Him.
For people who aren’t sick, it’s a difficult concept to grasp that I’m always ill. Some part of me is always hurting. It never goes away. Most people are used to getting sick every now and then, they get a flu and they can check out for a few days and rest up, get better then get back into the groove of things. People like me can’t do that. We have to push through, we have to work through the pain.
There are several common responses that my sisters and I receive when people learn that we have a chronic illness. Some of them are quite rude, and some downright hurtful and ridiculous.
“You aren’t seeing doctors to be treated?” There are so many times that people behave as if we’re heathens for not going to the professionals for our treatments. Our family has chosen to go the natural route for many reasons. And despite what many people think, the natural route does work and it’s far less taxing than the treatments by the medical “professionals”.
“God wants you to be better.” This one bothers me because if God wanted me to be better I would be. He has complete control over my health and He does not want me to be better. By stating that He wishes me to be better, it is also saying that he is out of control of the situation, which denies His sovereignty.
The response that takes the cake is not only rude and unkind, it’s downright unbiblical: “You’re sick because of some terrible sin in your life. You need to repent and God will heal you.” I cannot even stress how wrong this statement is. How infuriating it is when a person says this to me. To look at a person who lives everyday in pain, in suffering and instead of trying to lift them up you try to tell them that they are “In sin and need to repent” not only puts off a holier than thou air, it’s wrong scripturally. An example I have is Job. God allowed all of that sickness, tragedy and tormenting to happen to Job. Was it because Job was sinning terribly? No. In fact, God allowed it because He knew that Job was faithful and even through all of those trials Job would not turn away from God. Does anybody remember Job’s friends? “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.” (Job 8:5-6) His friends told him he was in sin and if he only repented all would be well. We are to lift one another up, this is not uplifting or kind. Would you say this to a person who found out they had cancer? Or to a woman who had a miscarriage? No. Because it would be unkind and disheartening. It is the same principle.
Living with a chronic illness is not easy, if you know someone who lives with one, I beg you to please consider your words carefully. Consider how you would feel in their shoes if someone repeated your words to you. In essence these words are kicking a man while he is down. No one wants to be treated like this, so why would you do it to someone else?
I would like to make it clear that this isn’t a rant post, this is a problem that myself and others like me deal with often. People who don’t live with chronic diseases and illnesses don’t understand the implications or meaning of their words sometimes. And personally, I feel that if I don’t say how these sound and make people feel I’m doing a disservice to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you have said things like this to someone, please don’t take offense to this, but rather use it as an opportunity to grow. Maybe even apologize to the person you may have said these things to. We all make mistakes and we all have issues. I have many myself. I write this because I want others to point out the way my words may be insensitive or hurtful, and if I want others to do so for me I should do the same for them. Our tongues are powerful tools that can either build or destroy, we must be careful to guard them and ensure that we’re using them for good.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~ Ephesians 4:29