Isn’t it frustrating when you’re living with an invisible illness, yet people think it’s quite minor because you look so well and healthy?
But the more negative attention you receive for having symptoms, the harder it will be to heal.
I’ve had experience of this. I remember once being in a church service where the minister invited the congregation to lay hands on the sick. No-one wanted to lay hands on me. Why? Because there was an elderly man with cancer in the room.
The church judged that this was worse.
I remember being so devastated. I’d lost 10 years of my life by this point, the man with cancer had only been ill for a few weeks.
Have you encountered this? Do you feel those around you devalue your hidden illness?
I now realise however, that recognition for suffering is not a good thing. It’s what we call negative attention.
I was dying inside and in such torment. The way I dealt with this to talk about it continually. I derterminedly spoke about it as much as I could, wanting others to understand.
This served me for a time. There is nothing wrong with this in the short term. God does use others to give his comfort to those in need, but when it becomes a way of life, it’s problematic.
INVISIBLE ILLNESS BECAME MY IDENTITY
However I began to recognise that talking about the invisible illness was hindering my journey. It was causing negative attention.
Do you see yourself as a sick person who wants the world to know how bad it is? Or as a healthy and well person despite symptoms?
The man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5 saw himself through the lens of sickness. I imagine if he lived today, he’d be posting images of himself on social media, wanting people to comfort him. He craved negative attention.
I imagine he grew accustomed to talking about how bad his situation was. This was his identity.
The more you talk about the illness, the cancer, the pain in your body, the more you keep it alive. See Life and Death are in the Power of the Tongue.
The more people see you as ‘sick’, the more it reinforces that sickness is your identity. You become known as the ‘sick’ person, keeping you in a place of weakness and lack. This is negative attention.
Are you posting regular updates of your invisible illness on social media? Are you forever talking about it?
It dawned on me, that all people knew about me is that I live with a chronic pain disorder. They didn’t see me in any other capacity. They didn’t pray for anything else other than this.
There was no awareness of my gifts, my calling, my personality traits, my strengths, my achievements. Sickness was my identity.
I began to feel stifled.
THE LENS OF HEALING AND WHOLENESS
When I joined my now church, I deliberately decided to not mention my health to anyone, unless they really needed to know. It was a new experience to be surrounded by a body of believers who had no idea about my health struggles. I felt free.
There was such an empowerment in this. I was able to step up and live a ‘healed’ life, despite my body and symptoms.
Imagine the difference it will make to your life, if you stopped trying to make your invisible illness visible.
If people were to see you for the amazing person I’m sure you are, and not someone who is sick. Our words are containers of life and death.
Do you see yourself healthy and whole despite the symptoms in your body? People will see you the way you see you.
Sometimes we need to make a choice between what hurts and what hurts more. If may hurt that your illness is invisible and no-one knows the hell you’re in. But at least you’re not receiving negative attention from those around you.
I hope this helps someone today.
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