Scripture of the Week:
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Taking shame for things we did not cause will not help us to heal.
Today is a day marked on my calendar now. A day I never would have noticed before. You know how they make random holidays for every cause and purpose under Heaven and sometimes those days apply? Well today is one of those for me. I am sure you all were waiting in great anticipation for this day . . . World Sjögren’s Day 2018! We are not just talking about National here, people. World. When something impacts the world and few people know about it, well making it a holiday might help raise awareness. And what in the world is World Sjögren’s Day 2018?
Back in 2002, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. This autoimmune disease does not get the respect it deserves. Talk about pain. And shame. When you have an invisible, incurable disease, people sorta assume it is all in your brain. So you suffer silently and try to be strong. When people see you, they remark at how great you look on the outside. You couldn’t possibly be hurting as bad as you seem to be.
The pain I felt from Fibromyalgia was debilitating. I began to discover that many around me were afflicted as I was. How did I not see them before? Shame had them silenced, too. To be sick when others around us seemed to be so healthy was in indictment. We were possibly whiners or wimps. Then one day a friend came to visit our family and looked in my eyes. He saw the pain I was masking. And the toll it was exacting. He. Saw. Me. And he did not reject me. Turns out that his wife suffered with Fibromyalgia, as well. Sometimes having suffered similarly makes us compassionate and aware of others suffering around us.
Just like that friend saw me that day, Jesus saw me, too. Jesus sees you in whatever illness you are facing. Not only does He see us, but He knows what it is like to walk in suffering and He does not dismiss our sorrows.
Many years and additional autoimmune diseases have piggybacked since my first diagnosis, and with each one, I would just accept the label but pretend it did not exist. That does not work so well. Flare ups and pain cycles would get my attention. This was real. Hiding it would not make me well, either. The problem was, when you hurt, it is difficult to make yourself run on the treadmill or do things to help yourself when all you want to do is rest and try to find respite from your pain.
Many years have come and gone and Fibromyalgia was masking another autoimmune disease that caused 6 episodes with Pneumonia, scarring on my corneas, organ involvement and good times. (Had to throw that in there). It is an autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s. For years I thought I just had dry eyes and was admittedly embarrassed for yet another autoimmune disease that was discovered. This shame kept me from being more proactive in finding solutions. I was going to tough it out.
Sounds foolish now. So foolish. It wasn’t like I did not try to help myself, but when you are told your illness has no cure (they don’t know what Jesus can do), you basically just suck it up and deal with it. Part of the Shame Off You life is the realization that we don’t have to hide anymore. Our illnesses don’t define us, but they can cause us to grow nearer to Christ if we let them. We might even become more compassionate and find that our recognition of pain around us would not have been there had we not suffered, first.
If you suffer from autoimmune diseases or any physical or mental infirmity, don’t let shame keep you from getting help.Taking shame for things we did not cause will not help us to heal. You can even be a part of the solution. I have a fundraiser for Sjögren’s that I started if you would like to help find a cure. Here is more information about Sjögren’s, too.
Psalm 41:2-4 (ESV) offers hope to us when we suffer from various illnesses. In the midst of my struggles with health, God has taught me so much and this blog would not have been born had I not been laid out flat with lots of thoughts running through my head. My first blog post was “Pain, the Beautiful Tutor”. Go figure. I have learned a lot from my friends, the various illnesses which have humbled me but caused me to go deeper with my LORD.
“The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
This coming month, Shame Off You will be launched into the world. But you can pre-buy the book now and start to read it before it is released. Receive a free Scripture Reference Guide, journal, poster and the first three chapters when you pre-buy now. You can also be a part of the book launch.