Sharing this post with you from my health coaching heart today….but also from my own painful journey as a “sick person.”
I’m going on 3 years now of living with a painful, chronically EXHAUSTING and generally soul-sucking illness called Hashimoto’s Autoimmune. And close to 15 years now with a chronic spine condition I was born with (spondylolisthesis) that creates daily pain and massive physical limitations (including an unattractive bent-over-look that is hard on a girl’s self-esteem!)
One hidden blessing of living with chronic disease and pain - my COMPASSION for others INCREASES.
My understanding of “invisible illnesses” has greatly expanded.
And my desire to share this awareness with you is on fire!
So today, I’m sharing some heartfelt advice for us all (OR, what NOT to say to a sick person!)
The statistics (which haven’t even caught up with the reality) on chronic disease, especially invisible disease like autoimmune and pain conditions, are frightening, to say the least. What they confirm is that we are each most likely touching the lives of someone who struggles with one or more…or are sur-thrivers of them ourselves.
Knowing this, we’ve got to come out of the stigma-influenced mindset of judging, demeaning, pitying or patronizing those who suffer.
The only way to even begin to understand, let alone bring healing to someone in this situation, is to admit we might need to change our viewpoint.
We've got to remember that people who are struggling with an illness or disease or life-issue DO NOT WANT to be sick.
I repeat: NO ONE WANTS to be sick.
It's just SO hard when you are in the midst of sickness or some struggle and peeps give "pat comments." (Even IF their hearts are to help, and you know it, it still stings and sucks.)
Please be kind.
LISTEN instead of TELL.
THINGS THAT WE DON’T WANT TO HEAR:
* You are healed, you just need to receive it (yes, I get this one A LOT) as if I've actively CHOSEN to not receive it for the last few uber-painful, uncomfortable years of my life.
Um, just trust me on this, kay?
I DO want to receive it and you can be assured Jesus and I have conversed as such on more than one occasion.
* Have you tried THIS FIX-IT or THIS JUICE or THIS OIL or THIS PILL or THIS....
#1 Yes, I continue to keep an open mind, and I will try just about anything ONCE however, #1 money don't grow on my tree in the front yard, and
#2 my poor body needs a breather from "trying stuff" for a bit, thank you very much. (Not to mention the bank account.) PLEASE don’t offer me anything unless you wanna buy it for me?
“Oh, I know exactly what that feels like, from when I had *insert whatever ailment here* “
NO. Just no.
NOBODY knows exactly what another person’s struggle, pain, issues, or circumstances feels like.
You may be able to relate, but validation that you DON’T know what it feels like would be nice, then you can get into the relating piece after that.
Especially because now, I’m feeling CARED ABOUT by you...my heart is now wide open.
Example of what would be better to say:
“Gosh, friend, I have NO idea what that feels like, you are one tough cookie to deal with that! A while back, I had *insert whatever pain I had* and I could barely handle that! I’ll be praying for you.”
THINGS THAT MIGHT BE BETTER TO SAY:
* Aw, I'm sorry friend. You're in my prayers (or, if you're not a person of faith, you can say, "best wishes for healing")
* I can't imagine what that feels like, you must be so tired of this (oh sweet validation - it's like medicine)
* What can I do to help? (they're probably NOT gonna take you up on it, but it's that whole "thought that matters" thing)
* SEND THEM A QUICK MESSAGE with a song, a quote, an inspiration, or better yet, a sweet card in the mail with encouragement
OH and another quick tip: Don't forget about the "strong ones" - the friends or family who AREN'T COMPLAINING - they need those check in messages too! They need the thoughts and prayers and care - but they may never ask for it.
Back when I was very, very sick with a severe seizure disorder that upended my life in my late 20’s (but since, the Lord has COMPLETELY healed my body of it!) I once heard a neurologist say… “we are ALL one breath away from a neurological disease or mental illness.” He was saying this to remove my own self-induced shame about the condition, essentially telling me that EVERYONE is capable of sickness.
Since then, I’ve realized this is true of ANY sickness or condition or disease - and of course, as a health coach on a mission to bring hope and healing to this world, I don’t want to think that way.
I want to see EVERYONE healed!
NO ONE sick.
But it is true that while walking this imperfect journey in this broken world, NONE of us is “safe” from pain, disease, sickness or struggle.
We don’t earn sickness by “being worse than others” and we don’t “earn our way out of it with great faith” - and YES I do believe in faith and supernatural healing, and even have numerous testimonies of it in my own journey (with more to come!) but NO we personally don’t get to choose when that happens!
God is SOVEREIGN ya’ll - He alone is God. I’m not about to tell Him how to do His job.
Maybe, when we realize our great vulnerability, we will plant good seeds for our own uncertain futures by serving those in our lives now who are affected.
Maybe our own compassion meters will fill back up, our thoughtfulness thermometers will be on high alert and our sensitivity sensors will be working well!
Who has God put on your heart to reach out to?
Get up in their private messages right now, and show 'em some love!
...and thank you for taking the time to read this, friend. Your care in reading it is an amazing gift to those in your life who need you and your love!
Huge hugs and belief in you ~ Coach Bess