Thursday, September 20, 2007

Radical ideas

I find myself between a rock and a hard place. On one side, I have the Western medical model that dictates a person must "fight" for life, at all costs. On the other side, I have people from various spiritual philosophies telling me that illness is something I can transform and be free from if I think or pray correctly.

How about the other option nobody ever mentions? How about accepting where you are no matter what? Yes, I will work to have the best quality of life possible, but when I'm ready to die, I will find peace in ending the "fight." No matter how hard I pray or think, nothing will alter my genes. Does it make me a failure because I have not been able to heal myself? How about the possibility that my genetic illness and subsequent suffering was part of the plan, a gift not a curse? Isn't it possible God knew what he was doing when he gave me this disease?

It has taken me over 30 years to figure out that my personal beliefs surrounding the beauty of my illness are quite a radical.

Here's the deal: I wrote this post and I was venting my frustrations while keeping the fuel for my fire to myself. I don't know why I would do that: the only person who my rants would hurt is too egotistical to care what I have to say anyway.

I have been trying to promote my workshop, "Ten Opportunities of Illness", and , in doing so, I have been calling lots of churches and other spiritual organizations in North Carolina. I called a church in Charlotte yesterday and found my self talking to the female Reverend. Before I could finish my sentence summarizing the workshop, she was on me. She objected to the use of the words "chronic illness" and said that there is no such thing as illness. She told me that when I use words like that I am telling God that I accept illness into my life. She went on and on (in a very judgemental and nasty tone) and basically told me that I wouldn't have illness if I understood the true nature of God and did not allow illness into my life. Oooooo. She made me so mad. I kept my thoughts to myself because it would be inappropriate in that context to argue with her.

Here's what I would have liked to have said...well, after the profanities...

If I am born with a genetic illness but there is no such thing as illness where God is concerned, who made me then?

How do you think the people in your church feel when they come to you hoping to find healing but their illness does not go away? I imagine you have stories you could tell me about the people who have defied the predictions of their doctors and walked away from horrible illness miraculously healed. For each one of those, how many do you think walk out the back door of your church ashamed, sick and more alone than ever before? You don't tell their stories because it would not support your bullshit sermons. You don't tell their stories because they needed compassion and you gave them judgement and they are still sick. You don't tell their stories because they failed in your eyes and they have left you long ago.

Ah. I feel better now. That's the real reason for my post. I'm tempted to say the name of the church but I'll have to think more about whether or not I want to do that.


Jen! said...

Grrrr. Maybe you shouldn't post the name of the church b/c I might drive up there and punch someone in the face! OK - I exaggerate - I'm really not a violent person. But really, what that lady said to you is everyhting that is sick and gross about the American church and nothing of God. I have personally experienced judgement, self doubt, confusion and hatred of God b/c of people like that. I have known so many who have walked away just as you described.

I don't think I agree that God gave me CF and had a purpose behind it, but I certainly believe that with God's help, good things can come out of it. You are proving that with the way you live your life and the way you share it.

JC said...

Ironically, we spoke about this kind of thing today in my Social Services class. God is not behind illnesses, He is not punishing us, contrary to what the church believes. God is not behind any of that. It's sickening to hear a Reverend preaching that crap.

Sarah said...

I've heard that horrible idea that if you're sick, it's because you did something wrong, but never so bluntly or so heartlessly. She wouldn't happen to be a Christian Scientist?

Tiffany said...

Hi Sarah,

She wasn't Christian Scientist--she was science of mind which is totally different. It's basically Christianity mixed with "The Secret." I'm not a huge fan of "The Secret" but have known people in science of mind churches and they were open-minded, interesting people. This reverand just took it to an extreme...

Connie said...

How awful and frustrating. OK and evil! That so called Reverend needs education big time. What say we all go to her church and have a sit it or sick in. That'll show her!

Anonymous said...

I have an idea- lets stand outside her church and market your seminars to the people coming out... those with illness will certainly appreciate some support and understanding! :-)

Seriously, though, I say let's forget the bee- atch and move on to others with a more open mind.