Monday, October 19, 2009

Lookout Magazine on CFS

For many CFS patients, the lack of support from loved ones who barely acknowledge the reality of the affliction is as painful as the illness itself. Unfortunately, the church isn’t doing much better. While the faith community is good at ministering to those who are grieving or have diseases like cancer, many ignore invisible illnesses like CFS. But CFS is a real, complex illness that has both physical and psychiatric manifestations; it is not just depression or anxiety.

Cynthia Trench has often felt ostracized by other Christians. "Many in church were just plain hurtful about my illness." She says, "But God has taught me to take the comfort from the hurts I have been given and share that with others." Many leave church hurt, their faith battered, and in order to hold on to what faith they have left, they avoid the church that brought them discouragement.

Trench often refers to people like herself as ‘the culture of the unhealed.’ She says, "We’re the dirty little secret of the church family, especially when God’s healings in the congregation are constantly touted from the pulpit and classrooms without the compassion to look at long suffering and how to live life in the difficult path God has chosen for us." A woman once suggested that Trench must not have enough faith to be healed. "I kindly but firmly said, ‘It takes more faith to remain unhealed, but since you don’t think I do then let’s put you in charge of praying for my healing. Let me know how it goes.’" [great response – wish I’d thought of it!]

Even though Christina Gombar was raised in the church, she has explored Eastern religions through yoga because she finds their philosophy to be more forgiving. "Christianity, of course, is supposed to be the religion that reached out to the poor and the lame—but in real life, many Christians tend to be very judgmental."

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