Medical Mondays: Some People Will Never Get It

Those of us with chronic conditions often encounter healthy people who cannot grasp the idea of us in general. "You're sick? Well, I hope you get better soon!"

It's a little more complicated than that. 

It's hard for a healthy person to understand the concept of being sick long-term. It was hard for us to understand before we got sick!

A lot of people want to understand, it just doesn't fit in their realm of experience. For those, a clear explanation without bitterness or defensiveness can go a long way.

However, there will always be some who don't want to get it. They would rather choose to decide that we are hypochondriacs or just trying to get attention, which is ironic because most of us try very hard not to attract attention to our condition!

These people show up in different places. You may recognize them by the disbelieving scowl they send you when you take the elevator to the 2nd floor. They come up at church and make you into their latest project, determined to fix you. They look down their noses when you're using the motorized cart at Wal-Mart, certain your illness is not legitimate enough to need it.

Then there's the ones who don't even know you, but who are certain that if you just had enough faith, or prayed this certain prayer, you'd be fixed.

Sigh. It's tough feeling like you need to explain to everyone, doesn't it?

Here's my solution for that problem: Don't.

Don't waste energy and time and emotional strength trying to convince those people that your illness is legitimate. Leave them be. God can work on them in His own time.

For you, if you meet someone who doesn't understand but is willing to listen, you can help them by explaining calmly and clearly. For the others, just keep driving your motorized cart right on by them. Smile at them if you can! Leave them to their own conclusions. It is not your job to defend yourself to everyone.

And one of the best things you can do, when you feel yourself start to bristle at the look you're getting, or even the words that come out of some people's mouth (whether intended to hurt or not), overcome the bad with good. Pray for that person right then. It's not good for their health to be walking around under such a grey cloud. You praying for them will not only help them, but it will help you as well!

Your worth is not in what anyone thinks about you. It is not in convincing everyone around you that you really are sick. Your worth is in the God who says you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and He thinks about you more often than there are grains of sand on this earth (Psalm 139). There are over 10,000 grains of sand in one handful. Just think of how many handful of sand are on every beach in this world, not to mention every desert!

That's a lot. 

So have joy today, knowing you don't have anything to prove.

How precious also are your thoughts unto me, O God! 
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.
Psalm 139:18

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  1. Parents of sick children, even grown-up children, get lots of advice too. If we would give the name of this doctor to our child, if we prayed more, if we recommended this super food, if we didn't talk negatively (because admitting sickness is "owning" the sickness)- this one esp annoys me, etc. Thanks for the post.

  2. When I first started getting "advice" from people I laughed, then I got annoyed, then I realized I really do have a choice in how my heart responds, not reacts, to those people. So, I choose laugh... most of the time;)

  3. I found praying out loud, interrupting the 'helpful' person mid-sentence, is also very effective. Especially when I pray their eyes be opened that chronic conditions do not respond to empty-but-sound-good words.

  4. Thank you so much for this article! It encouraged me that I'm not the only one who has experienced this. I had tried for years to try and convince my husband just that I truly was sick. I realized that I was just wasting my precious energy, and I had no control over whether he would finally get it.

  5. It just hurts when those we want acceptance and affirmation from most do not understand. I can't imagine those of you who are facing this with someone you live with and love. What a burden that must be. But never forget the One who loves you most--who made you and knows every single sick cell you have--understands every feeling, every symptom, and every fear we face. Others may question our motives and hearts, but God sees the heart and He knows what is there. I hope you all are blessed today with grace and peace from your loving Heavenly Father.


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