Overcoming Roadblocks in the Religious Community
Ignoring Your Reality
Skepticism and separation is a natural reaction to chronic illness, and even good-hearted people can fall into the trap. The problem is that people project their own fear onto others: the fact that you are ill reminds them that they too could become ill, and that’s a frightening realization. In turn, many try to ignore that possibility be ignoring your plight.
Instead of recoiling from those around you who don’t understand the nature of your struggle, take the opportunity to describe your life and routine to them. The better your communication, the better everyone can comprehend how you feel.
Seeking sympathy is understandable, but it can also upset the social balance. For instance, if you dwell too much on your own discomforts and limitations in conversation, people will eventually begin to resist your emotional demands. Learning to focus on other topics and other people can actually help to get your mind off your MS, and will foster healthier and more fruitful relationships.
Using Your Illness to Empower Your Faith
Faith can help you better handle your illness, but your MS can also help strengthen your faith and your role in your religious community. Rather than suffer through your limitations, learn to empower yourself with your actions and interactions in your church community and your everyday routine:
- Make yourself useful – A quick and easy way to overcome feelings of vulnerability is to help others. A small, generous gesture can go far to making someone’s day, and you’ll get a real feeling of happiness from the deed. Contribute your time and talents to charitable events, and offer small tokens of gratitude often. Even a simple thank you card can make a big impact.
- Take control of your healing – Creativity is closely tied to healing, and many patients make huge emotional gains through art therapy for MS. Use your church as a base for your creativity, and start up an art drop-in class, a writing circle, or a Sunday school play that can get you moving – physically and psychologically. It’s important to remember what you are capable of accomplishing, and that you have a lot to offer your community.
- Honor your unique faith experience – The way you experience your faith is what's important. Comparing yourself to others, or allowing thoughts and judgements to cloud your spiritual resolve will only add worry to your life. Remember that your spiritual path is yours and yours alone, even though you surround yourself with other loving people to help you through.
MS is challenging, but it can also bring a sense of individuality and a unique perspective to strengthen your community. Not everyone will understand your daily path, but when you meet someone who does, there’s an even greater chance to forge a strong, comforting bond.
See your faith for all it can bring – the personal strength, social support, and potential for expression and exploration – and you may find a way not to only survive, but thrive in your life with MS.