Christianity never helped me deal with chronic illness.

It told me–or maybe it was mostly the people involved–to “hold on to God’s promise” and that this translated to me getting what I wanted if I just “believed” hard enough.

Looking back on that now, it sounds like a bait and switch. And people are usually pretty pissed when you do the switch.

 

I realized several days ago, as I was reading something Christian-based, that I am still angry at Christianity to the point that I forget its good parts. I honestly feel that what the religion is today is a mockery of what Jesus was sent to help create, so I don’t feel disrespectful offering my opinion on NOT liking what the religion has become.

But I need to learn to focus on its core, and not judge Christianity by the actions of the people who call themselves Christians. The anger that arises in me is the whisper, telling me that I need to find forgiveness; for the brainwashing when I was at my most vulnerable; for the perception that those years were wasted on false promises when they could have been used to help me find REAL meaning instead of “if you’re sick it’s your fault for not believing in God enough.”

Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different. And it’s over, so I need to move on… After I properly grieve.

 

So yes, Christianity never helped me with illness. It was judgmental. People blamed me, said I wasn’t doing something right, and that God was “allowing satan to punish” me for it.

From what I’ve seen, these are the major reasons people stop believing in any religion, especially Christianity: They are led to believe that (1) God hates them, (2) that God is punishing them for something, and (3) they can’t possibly wrap their minds around praying to anything that could “allow” so much suffering in this world… Which, from my previously Christian standpoint, did indeed make me awfully confused. But from my current, well-rounded standpoint, that I in no way achieved through the Christian religion, I understand it much, much better.

I’m a Universalist so I believe God is Love and there are infinite ways to connect to the divine. I don’t believe God, the Universe, controls our actions. It wants to lead us in the right way, toward Love, which is our true form, our connection to the Source, but it can’t stop us from hurting ourselves or others. That’s the free will part.

Many Christians I was around felt like they had to protect the image of the god in their head through bizarre logic, such as: If you believe in Him, nothing “bad” will ever happen to you. (And of course “bad” can be subjective. For example, I no longer see illness as something “bad” but as a part of life, like getting older. We all get sick eventually.) Or if something bad does happen, it’s because you weren’t doing something right, and these bad things will continue to happen until you get rid of all the “evil” in your life. I.e., Everything is your fault.

In my case, during my first years of being ill, their descriptions of the “evil” in my life were: “Stop drawing dragons, they’re symbols of the devil!”; “Someone in your household has been watching pornography!”; “Get rid of that gargoyle, it has a ~bad energy~ and it’s evil!” (I guess they forgot gargoyles are on cathedrals…); “This is a generational curse because your parents had an affair!”

It was all about letting other people tell me what I needed to do to earn their god’s love, what I had to do before He would take away this “curse” which had been bestowed upon my physical form because I wasn’t “perfect” enough to receive his mercy. (Sarcasm alert…) Because, you know, it’s so much better to have no spiritual direction and a broken soul but be physically healed, than it is to be spiritually and emotionally whole but fragile with physical illness. (…Okay, sarcasm over.)

How rarely people mention the SPIRITUAL HEALING part of that “you will be healed” promise in the Bible, instead of interpreting it as “pray and all physical illness will leave you.” With that flawed Christian-based logic, I guess Tammy Faye Bakker died from cancer because she didn’t love God enough? (Still being sarcastic, there. That’s not true at all!)

Become closer to God, closer to Love, closer to the Universal tie that connects us, and you will find healing. Perhaps not physically, but spiritually, emotionally. That is how I interpret that metaphorical promise in the bible, a book I firmly believe was intended as a metaphorical masterpiece never to be taken literally.

 

The goal of being “perfect,” especially to a judgemental human’s eyes, is completely unattainable. It will leave you struggling in self-hatred until you die because nothing will ever be enough. A belief in God is not your way out of anything negative ever happening to you.

Like the Buddhists, I believe life is suffering. Bad things do happen to good people. Hurting people hurt other people with their free will. Disease happens. Natural disasters happen. I can’t say I understand every instance of things, but I do know from those situations, with guidance, come some of the strongest people on this earth. Through all the pain comes forth a warrior. I’m one of them. And I use that strength to try to help and inspire people… So how dare anyone try to say God was “punishing” me, with the likes of something that happens to all of us.

It’s not a “one size fits all” where disease is a punishment that “shouldn’t” exist. Disease exists. If you have a body, it can and will get diseased and die. Life is a fatal condition, as the saying goes.

I think wonderful things can come from having experienced illness, and its’ timing is absolutely essential to how our lives turn out. For some, it’s the only way they are going to stop and think, about their lives, about their actions… How many near-death experiences, how many sicknesses, bring people closer to the divine and/or what’s really important to them? That’s not an accident, not in my book. Illness also profoundly affects the lives of those closest to the person who has disease.

If someone can look at me and say that God has not healed me, they’re not looking closely enough. I used to be so angry, and led by negative emotion, and torn. Nothing could have ever stopped me in my tracks like disease has…and yet, I wouldn’t change a thing if given the chance, because no other turn of events could have landed me here today. I think I’d be like so many people, going through the motions of The American Dream thinking it’d give me happiness but never finding it.

Through great suffering comes great reward. It’s not what I would have chosen for myself, but I am amazed at how it’s all come together, at the person I am and who I’m becoming.

 

People lied to me, but they didn’t know they were hurting me. They didn’t know they were blaming me for my disease because of their own desire to protect the image of god in their head; because of their inability to handle the thought of their god “allowing” illness to happen; because they saw illness as a curse to be delivered from, not a fact of life with which one copes. They didn’t know it all came from their fear of not being in control.

It reminds me of this thing I once got from a Facebook app:

“True faith flowers from and through doubt.

If you never question your beliefs, you are just a puppet dancing to somebody’s strings. If God had wanted your mindless obedience, you would’ve been created without mind and without free will. But you have both so you can come to God of your own accord. Just look at the lives of saints: Most of them had gone through a dark night of the soul, and that’s why their faith was so strong. The path to true faith always goes through doubt. So ask those questions you’ve always been afraid to ask, and find the answers. Then your faith will become unshakable.”

I’m glad I asked the questions, I’m glad I doubted, and even if I am still working on my forgiveness, I am glad I am not that which has hurt me so that I will not hurt others in the same way. And may it be so.

a rainbow at night

7 responses to “Christianity never helped me deal with chronic illness.

  1. I’ve no idea what kind of wackos you dealt with but day-mn! They sounded like fools, the statements you made “someone watched porn in your house that’s why you are sick”
    Uhhh isn’t God supposed to “punish” the porn watcher NOT the pron watchers sister, mother, father etc?
    Also whatever happened to God allowing sickness to “call you home”?
    I somehow got the idea in my head that God allows sickness/deaths to Call his people Home sort of thing.
    I’m not religious because of all the People involved that try to take away everything that’s me.
    Music clothes books games.
    I felt like that if knowing Jesus means throwing these away then I don’t want to know him.
    But lately I’d been thinking the opposite.
    Maybe God likes booze and boobs.
    How do WE know what god wants?
    Jesus always drank in the Good Book.
    I think he doesn’t want us to act like jerks and worship him. Perioid. None of those get rid of this or that drama.

    • A lot of people give God human characteristics and I think that’s bound to end badly. Whatever judgements they have–about others’ actions they just simply don’t “agree” with, about the human body and sexuality–they attribute to some divine being (or write in a book that gets passed along thousands of years…) so as to not face their judgements, themselves.

      As for the other stuff, that makes perfect sense to me. The idea that everyone is “supposed” to have a loooooong life is just.. not.. realistic? I think we’re here to impact one another and our souls, and that doesn’t always take 90 years! Quality, not quantity, and all that. I’m happier than most anyone I know, and most would think I was dealt an “unfair” hand…

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head with God Is Love.

    Love is not about punishment or sacrificing things or fear of inanimate objects
    It’s about accepting us as we are, who we are, not as someone else thinks we should be. Unconditional love…not dependant on our actions.

    Love God. Love God’s Creation.

    Jesus did not seek to punish Peter for denying him 3 times. And he told Judas to go ahead and betray him and most certainly didn’t condemn him.
    He surrounded himself with sinners…living among & loving society’s low-lifes while the righteous he took to task.
    Paul declared Everything is free to me. Everything is permissable. Not always advisable (esp when it harms someone else who we should love) but the ensuing consequences do NOT include God punishing us.
    There is no condemnation as the penalty for sin has been paid. We are forgiven our sins…past, present AND future.

    People who tell you illness or bad things happen are punishment for sins or for lack of faith (ie. belief in hoped for unseen things) are in fact placing limits on God…they’re saying Love goes this far and no further…like a fence around a field…finite Infinity. They are judging you & in doing so are saying they are better than you.
    Yet God alone has the right to judge us. And has chosen not to
    .
    No one else has the right to judge us.

    Jesus told a parable over this very issue. About the servant forgiven massive debts by his lord only for the servant to turn around and start beating other servants under his care for not being able to repay lesser debts. And when the lord found out he threw the ungrateful man into jail until he repaid the previously forgiven debt.
    So Christian who ignore this do so at their own eternal peril. This is the blasphemy against the Spirit (of Love) … the ONLY sin not forgiven. They are throwing Love’s Love back into his face.

    It’s also written that what we are afraid of, that is our God…the reason we should fear God…(the better translation of fear in this instance is Love. love Love) it’s in the same letter by John as the God is Love and Love Is verses…not devils or demons who have no power over us. Jesus won that fight at Golgotha.

    In Isaiah 44: 10-20 it’s clearly written about the absurdity of worshipping a piece of carved wood or stone object. You take a piece of wood, burn on end on a fire to cook your dinner and carve the other end then bow down & worship it. Being afraid of a picture of a dragon or a carving of a gargoyle most assuredly comes under this teaching.

    I was going to write more but this is already too long. I hope you will forgive me for the Bible-bashing.

    I also hope you are able to keep cool in this hot weather and are happily a long long way away from any and all bushfires.
    Hugs
    Julia.

    • Hi Julia, no problem about the long comment–I am flattered that you thought it important to spent your energy expressing yourself on my post. ♥

      The way I see it, the punishment we get through NOT living a life the way Jesus lived–a life of compassion and love–is the consequence in and of itself: A life away from Love. “Hell” has always been traditionally defined as seperation from God, so seperation from Love–what worse life is there?

      Actually, your words applied even greater to an “issue” with a family member I’d been having the day you posted it, so thank you for that. It really helped me sort through what to do about it. What an unexpected source! ;) Many hugs to you! Stay well. ♥

      Kit

  3. Pingback: The Choice of Someone with Progressive Disease to Stop Treatment | A rainbow at night

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