Rheumatoid Arthritis and Religion

And here it is. In case anyone was wondering what I find to be the most frustrating part of chronic illness, I’ll tell you. It’s not the pain. It’s not the inability to do the simplest things. It’s not even the feeling of having your life on hold. The single worst thing is the way people treat you. And the worst way people can treat you is to act like its your fault you are sick.

I live in the bible belt. Very few people that I come into contact with in day to day life are not religious. And more often than not, they are very religious. I was raised by a very religious man. And even though my mother was more of a free spirit, my dad took his religion very seriously.

My best friends parents are the most religious people I know. They are also unbelievably wonderful people. They are truly amazing people, and I believe that everything they do they do out of the kindness of their heart. That being said, I have to say that they hurt me very very much. But I’ll talk about that later.

I have been around religious people all my life. I even briefly worked for a gospel station. I didn’t last long. I refuse to do into detail about the things that happened there. Lets just say that I was disgusted.

Now, I don’t want to get into a discussion about my own religious inclinations. Or dis inclinations. I have seen a lot of wonderful things happen in the name of religion. But I have seen alot more bad. A lot more.

If you have ever been around the self-righteously devout then you will know that they always believe they have the answer. There is always a reason for everything. There is always a lesson to be learned from suffering. There is always a way to be delivered from suffering. If you have enough faith, God can do anything, right?

So what if you have been prayed for by every preacher you can? What if those claiming to have healed others in the name of God fail to heal you? Well than there must be something wrong with you. Right? Well that’s what some would believe.

So here are the possibilities.

You either don’t have enough faith yourself. You are keeping you from being healed. ( I get this the most)

You have bad influences in your life. God is punishing you for reading your horoscope, or reading Harry Potter, or something equally silly. ( I also get this alot)

God is punishing you for not attending church.

Or even better, God is doing this because he loves you and by making you completely miserable, he is teaching you life lessons.

It couldn’t be, it just absolutely couldnt be that I just have some really stupid white blood cells. My older brother is autistic, I don’t hear anyone blaming him for it. ( And I better not ever).

The point is that it is hard enough dealing with disease. It makes it so much harder when people think its your own fault. It’s so silly. It’s so completely ridiculous. People are so insensitive.

Even the new age shop I have visited makes the same assumption. The native American holistic healer says the reason he wasn’t able to heal me is because I am not letting go of some inner hurt. And that I don’t really believe he can heal me. The latter is probably true. It’s all so ridiculous. But I guess I shouldn’t have been in there in the first place. Maybe that’s also keeping me from some  miraculous healing. Hahaha.




2 Responses

  1. You really hit the mark with your observations on religion and New Age alternatives: One side blames the disease on sin and the other on karma. One expects you to have unquestioning faith because that’s how you get to heaven or get healed, while the other allows the freedom to explore but expects positive thinking and emotional purging because of the belief that the power to heal oneself is within. I have RA and at age 52, I’ve explored both sides of the fence. Anyone who wholly believes in the rigidity of one side or the irrationality of the other doesn’t understand spirituality. In fact, true spirituality begins where the opposites have in common. Yup, RA involves genetics, and there’s something to be said for mind over matter, for untangling the stuff in life that may cause excessive pain, and for believing in one’s own power along with power that is larger than oneself. For me, the pain motivates me to stay disciplined in my own spiritual practices, which allow me to buoy above it, but I’m not going to go digging around for an emotional extravaganza. Yes, I get all kinds of advice and admonitions from my New Age friends who don’t understand why I don’t run around spending gobs of money on this technique or that potion, but I also get flashes on things that do help ease the pain. Most of the time, the disease just is what is, and sometimes I even forget that I have it. Why heap guilt on top of everything else?

  2. I am a 36 yr. old Mother of 2. I was diagnosed with RA 5 years ago and thought I had been through every emotion, but not this one. I guess I’m lucky, because no one has ever blamed me for my infirmities. I also have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and struggle daily with both, but I know it is not my fault. My belief is that, yes, God could take this away from me, but no matter how hard or long I pray that he does, he will not….because, Yes, there are lessons to learn, but most importantly, it is building my character and the character of my children. They see Mommy go through this daily and they have learned to be more compationate and loving, so they don’t blame people when they grow up. I am not as angry as you sound or as I use to be, I am trying living life to the fullest (in my heart and mind, not physically). God has a plan for me and I believe it is to get the word out to others with RA or other infirmities, that he is with us no matter what and we will get us through it. No, we cannot do everything we once could or that we want to do, but I have learned to be “WELL” even though I “AM ILL”. Being angry all the time only makes us hurt worse. Take the pain, fatigue, sadness,etc. one day at a time, and use your infirmities for something good. Maybe you’ll fell better.
    I wish you luck and would love to be here for you if you need a friend. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!!!

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