It is absolutely amazing how Christians respond to suffering. I think a lot of it has to do with what we are taught about suffering depending upon which Church we attend. Whatever end of the spectrum we find ourselves, our response to those going through prolonged suffering can simply be unhelpful. Very rarely do Christians weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). I have had a lifetime of heartbreaking suffering, and can only count a handful of Christians who have actually wept with me. It is far more common to be corrected for having a negative attitude over the challenges in life. This simply has to stop in the Christian community and be replaced with biblical lament.
I am so thankful that as a society we are talking more about the impact of mental health. In my experience though mental health is still very much a taboo issue amongst some Christians. Those of us with mental health challengers are told that they are possessed by demons, or they are choosing to be naughty and sinful, or they lack faith and trust in God, and on it goes…. Mental illness needs to be seen as an illness amongst Christians, and in response we need to love people like Jesus would. How would Jesus love them? All throughout the gospel we see Jesus showing people compassion, understanding, and serving them in the midst of great difficulty.
As a Christian with a disability, I have first hand experience as to what it is like entering into the church community with a disability. I really do think that although people within the Church do their best to accommodate those of us with additional needs, the institution as a whole unintentionally marginalises and excludes people with disabilities. Therefore, the church unintentionally isolates some of the most desperate people in society who need to know Christ’s love and to be apart of the body of Christ.
I have longed to write a frank and honest letter to Christians because I think some are uncomfortable with suffering, disability and mental illness that they are often at a lost of what to say and do. I hope to write a series of blogs that provide suggestions as to how we as the body of Christ can follow the example of Jesus by loving the marginalised in our community, and making the church a place where they feel loved, supported and cared for.
It is a sad reality the people with disabilities are treated as if they have no value. You are placed in a box by a mere label of a diagnosis, and deemed as if you have nothing to contribute to the world.You may see that I have nothing to contribute in a workplace or to a friendship or sporting clubs or community group, but the reality is I do and you’re the one missing out on what I can contribute. My experience and circumstances in life may be very different to yours but that doesn’t mean that I have no value.
Being taken advantage of comes in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it is unintentional, but still bordering on taking advantage of the person’s vulnerability, and at other times it is outright intentional.
The best word used to describe what it is like living with multiple illnesses is isolating. It is isolating because very few people understand what it is like living with a whole range of illnesses. It is isolating because you are not necessarily in a position to work, and have interaction found in a workplace. It’s isolating because after awhile you stop being invited to things, as you generally can’t turn up, so people think there is no point inviting you. It is isolating because friendships disappear, as you are no longer in a position to go out and see people. You know that the friendships that remain will last a long time, because these are the ones that have stuck by you.
There seems to be a common misconception that only those in a wheelchair or who are elderly are in need of a mobility parking pass