I want to talk about a topic that many people either avoid or choose to ignore. It’s something I see very little support for yet affects over half the population of people living with Multiple Sclerosis as well as those living with other chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s, ALS, Lupus, EDS, Asthma…too many illnesses to even list.
If this doesn’t affect you, you can simply pass up today’s post as something to be thankful for since you are among the few who have been kept from the judgements of others. For the rest, I hope you leave encouraged in knowing that you aren’t alone and that you are an amazing person even while living with a disability.
I want to talk about faith and the disabled. Regardless of your background or beliefs, it seems there is always someone who has an answer as to why you got sick and how to be healed…and if you aren’t healed then there is something wrong with you. I have been approached with that very thing more times than I can count.
I have been told everything from I didn’t have enough faith, to I must have some unconfessed sin in my life, to I must really not want to be healed…all of which are untrue. If you are anything like me, once diagnosed you spent hours searching your heart for answers of where you went wrong in life only to come away exhausted and feeling defeated.
Something else that gets piled on top of all the guilt that is already weighing you down is when someone shares a story with you of how a person was healed of cancer or a heart condition…and you can be too if you just believe. I don’t think people realize how much it hurts to have a comparison made like that. It comes across, yet again, as saying you must be doing something wrong or that you don’t have enough faith. I’m sure that’s not the intent of the comparison (at least I hope it’s not), but that’s how it comes across.
If you have had something like that happen to you and are carrying around a boatload of guilt because of it, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you. You didn’t cause MS due to past mistakes or terrible wrongs committed. It’s not because you lived a bad life, said the wrong prayers or don’t have enough faith. Multiple Sclerosis just is. It’s a reality that can’t be explained away. It isn’t caused by a lack of faith either. It affects the best of the best, the worst of the worst and everyone in between.
Don’t hold onto the guilt others have tried to place on you or that you have put on yourself. Let it go and shake it off. I know that’s easier said than done, but I also know you can do it. Don’t believe the lies that take off running through your head. You are a beautiful person with an amazing amount of strength…more than you realize. You are not the cause of MS in your life, never have been and never will be.
We live in a world that worships physical perfection. The helpless, vulnerable, chronically ill and impaired don’t fit that picture perfect image. People are so good at pointing fingers and trying to place blame where it shouldn’t be, but in the process they are actually causing us harm, not help. And just so you know, they are wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, those of us with a disability are here to show the world that the “perfect” people are the flawed ones. Maybe, just maybe, we are here to teach others how to love and truly be compassionate without judgement. Maybe, just maybe, we are changing the world through our suffering…one tear at a time. Maybe, just maybe, the strength we carry today is helping to build a bridge for those who will follow tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe.
Disabilities are a part of life. They have nothing to do with how much faith someone does or doesn’t have. They have nothing to do with how much someone prays, reads their Bible or takes part in worship. They do, however, have everything to do with being human.
“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” – Fred Rogers