Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Category Confusions

Many discount the physical and emotional and spiritual suffering of the chronically ill by ignorantly trying to level the playing field with cliches. "Well, everyone gets sick." "I have a chronic problem, too." And so on. These comments are made to get the sick person to buck up and deal with life--the way everyone has do.

This is completely wrong. It is a category confusion. It hurts people.

A chronically ill person does not just get sick once in a while. Nor are the problems minor irritations that come up more often than one would like. If we consider what actually plagues the chronically ill--chemical, environmental sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, lupus, chronic heart problems, and more--we must realize that these conditions are serious and deeply distressing. They consume people with pain and debility. They are not mere hassles and annoyances. They ruin lives, rob dreams, and bring all manner of woes.

You cannot level the playing field, you healthy ones. However, you can listen. You can even research the symptoms of these diseases and try to put yourself in their bodies. You can then weep with those who weep. Only then can you truly laugh with those who laugh.


  1. We've been pretty lucky to only get one comment like that, and it was before my husband's official diagnosis. Chronic illness completely changed our lives, that's for sure.

  2. Why is it that people seem to have an almost insatiable need to play illness and on-going suffering down? And I think it is worse in the so-called civilized countries; as if, somehow, it is an affront to modern, fast-paced society to admit that life isn't always neat and tidy.

    "You cannot level the playing field, you healthy ones."

    That is true - and I still say that when the Great Day comes, the richness of what the Lord has prepared for us will swallow up the grief and we will finally be able to be completely glad of the suffering He has allowed.

    However, it is the "getting through today" which is so hard, even with our hand in His.

    Thinking of you and your wife this morning, agagin.