God’s Thought’s to Me
“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, he has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” (Ps. 22;24, NLT)
“I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.” (Mat.25:43(b), NLT)
Today I am so honored to introduce my friend, Joy Lenton. She is a very special lady who suffers from ME/CFS and arthritis.
Joy is a mother and wife to her husband, Phil. She used to work as a nurse before becoming chronically ill.
Joy and her husband live in Norfolk, United Kingdom. To visit her blog, just click on her picture. Thank you, dear friend, for blessing me by being a guest at my place. Over to you.
The Girl with Light in Her Eyes
Sadly those who are too sick to work have to contend with issues of shame. In a society where we are “framed, boxed, categorised, sifted, found wanting in society’s eyes” as I wrote about in the poem here, we experience deep frustration at being pigeon-holed and stigmatized.
It all impacts our lives adversely, affecting our relationships and connections with others.
On the rare occasions when I am alone downstairs in the house and have to answer the door during a late morning/afternoon/evening period in my night-clothes, wearing bed-head hair, a dazed, sleepy expression and a veneer of embarrassment, …
…I either say nothing (for such a state is normal to those who know me) or mumble something like, “Please excuse me, I’m unwell today” to those I don’t.
Then I hasten to close the door as fast as possible to avoid curious stares from neighbours or passers-by who may wonder what they are seeing.
I just want them to understand I am sick rather than lazy. Does it always take a stick or wheelchair to convince people we are ill?
As someone who used to be thought of as attractive, took a fair amount of time and trouble over her appearance, sought out clothes to enhance and suit my figure, it is a far cry from those days to be where I am now .
I am almost permanently pyjama-clad due to the time I spend resting in bed or too exhausted to make the effort required to get up and dressed, and I’m far too weary to let it worry me as it would have done before.
I have a body that doesn’t walk like it should, lists and comes to a halt after a very short distance, is riddled with and swollen-jointed by arthritis, sinks wearily under M.E fatigue.
I have a face marked by the effects of over 20 years of chronic illness, exhaustion, pain, medication-taking, as well as the natural ageing process. I feel ashamed of my appearance at times. It doesn’t reflect how I feel on the inside.
Though I’m far busier these days trying to work on the inner beauty that endures and cannot be taken away. To feel ashamed just for being ill is an additional burden we don’t need. And, yes, there are other areas of shame that have a great impact on relationships.
One of those is having experienced childhood sexual abuse. To have precious innocence taken and adult things pressed on a mind and body too young to understand them is a horrible thing indeed.
Those of us who have experienced it feel that we not only carry a huge scarlet letter ‘S’ for shame hanging around our necks, but have it imprinted on our very souls.
Many who carry this shame stigma also carry a burden of emotional trauma, often leading to mental and physical illness, whereby the acid accumulation seems to leach into our very frame causing deep emotional/physical pain and disorder.
It can take a great deal of time, wrestling, prayer, struggle, pain, counseling, and much Holy Spirit input and help to work through the devastating legacy it leaves us with.
Full emotional healing cannot be rushed. So why share these things? Aren’t they meant to be private? Well, yes, and no.
The minutiae of how people deal with these issues is something for them to work out individually and together as a couple. But the sadness and frustration they cause is something to make known if it will help even one other person to feel less isolated and alone.
Actually, it’s the hiding, shaming and embarrassment that keeps us from feeling understood or getting the support we need.
When your daily life experience lacks most of the defining vestiges of normality, it tends to reduce life to a drive to appear normal in the midst of personal chaos. And to a drive to see lives changed, with health and wholeness restored….one day.
In our image-obsessed society and culture, all of us who fail to manifest the perceived ‘norm’ ideal can be left feeling totally inadequate and shamed. Much depends on where we place our worth and value and where others do too.
“We are “normal” in God’s eyes when we demonstrate endurance and long-suffering, when we keep looking to the unseen things. This is the normal Christian life” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada ‘Daily Devotionals’.
Let me reassure you, my friend, we are ‘normal’ right now, even when our lives and bodies may feel anything but, no matter how well or badly we function, no matter our level of disability. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
If, in naming and discussing these issues I can bring a greater degree of clarity, understanding, empathy or practical solution-finding to the mix then it will have been worthwhile.
We need to speak out. To air our concerns. To make invisible illness visible. To open up a forum for discussion so that others who suffer like-wise (and those who may follow after) will be assisted to live as fully and freely as God intended.
For God the Father is not ashamed to call us His children who are restored, whole, beloved, precious and beautiful in His sight as He looks at us through the lens of Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Much love and sweet blessings xx