Mmm, now I am going to tell the religion journey I went on with my AS this week. It’s another of those sensitive subjects.
I have been through a roller coaster journey of emotions as my AS developed undiagnosed and some of the most extreme emotions I have endured were on the miracle cure hunt.
I kind of envy people who have no religious faith at all because then you never have to suffer the internal (and external) debates about illness and faith. However I am no that lucky, many of my family are very actively practicing Christians (I don’t know how this story compares to other faiths, but this is my story and focuses really on me experiences with Christian churches – and if you’re from another church and think you can heal me – really don’t want to know. Thanks very much, but no thanks).
I grew up attending church and was confirmed but then drifted away. I still had a faith and after my accident and the birth of my daughter I returned to regular attendance and my faith developed quickly and deeply and I became an active church member. That was all running along at the same time my AS was developing.
Now, some extremely religious people, some of my family included, believe sin equals illness, be it your sin or your ancestors sin. I don’t believe that, I never have, fortunately neither do my parents. If you do believe that and you want to email me to tell me I’m wrong – really don’t.
These family members began their interrogation of how I’d sinned after I had my car accident it has gone on. Well could you have done this..? I think this? Have you thought of that..? Do you do..? Could it be..? No.
I never had the courage to tell them to bog off – until recently. I have told them now that I disagree and not to discuss it with me. If they start I politely tell them to change the subject.
Anyway ignoring this obsessive belief, because I don’t believe everyone in life is meant to be well, I did pray for relief of pain, for a diagnosis, for healing intermittently through my life – admittedly mostly when it was really bad. And when I was in considerable pain I would quite often have frequent long dialogues of prayer.
Through all that time I was battling to become used to this thing which was taking over my body with pain. (It sounds like a demon doesn’t it? It isn’t). I was afraid of where my life was going and how much more limiting the pain would become. At times I didn’t like myself because pain made me angry and snappy and aggressive, because as I said in my last blog it’s hard to think through and over it and unless you’ve been in serious pain you really don’t get that. So I wasn’t happy with myself or my life, or rather my illness.
My parents were far more subtle in their urgings for me to seek healing and they urged me because they wanted me to be well and because they were worried about me.
I wanted to be well. So I did try prayer and faith healing.
Whenever there were opportunities at the church I attended I went forward. I figured I had to give God the opportunity to heal me and there was nothing wrong with asking, and I did everything you are supposed to do to make myself open to healing.
Then I got into the Alpha course as a leader (a course for supporting people exploring faith) and prayed for others and learnt more about channelling the spirit through prayer and prophecy and words. So I heard these amazing stories of people who heard from God there was someone in the room who needed healing from a certain type of illness and that person would know God was speaking to them and would step forward and be healed.
I do believe in healing, I went to various local and regional meetings and waited hopefully that someone would hear God’s word in relation to me. They never did.
I used to go on an annual retreat and each year I went I used to hope perhaps this time, perhaps now my moment will come.
I did have episodes of healing from various flare ups but they were never prolonged.
One time at the retreat I felt filled with heat and tingling and thought it’s happening I absolutely one hundred percent believed because you have to have faith to be healed – so they tell you – if you don’t have enough faith that can be why it doesn’t work. It’s rubbish. It didn’t work. Just think of the let down I felt afterwards after totally believing and then not receiving. It wasn’t worth the believing.
I think when you are seeking healing through religion though, what the people who are encouraging you to do it just don’t get is how exhausting it can be. I mean I expended so much thought and emotional energy, considering I was attending church weekly and praying at home daily, on hoping, then trying not to hope, then trying to believe when I’d been let down so many times, then searching my soul for what I must have done wrong – and coping with the frequent let down – suffering with trying to understand why? – why me? – why not help me? – what was I doing wrong? It really was exhausting and depressing and that is no what faith and religion are meant to be about.
It was a few years ago now I suppose I developed the courage to stop seeking healing. That I have to say was a wonderful step in my journey. If you are religious and you’re ill and you believe in this rubbish about you must have sinned it isn’t what Jesus says in the bible and St Paul who set up the church was seriously ill in the years he spent confined at the end of his life and rejoiced in his illness.
I think that illness can make you a better person, a stronger person, a more compassionate person. I think that illness can be a blessing because for whatever reason by being ill we can help others because we understand it. I don’t believe that everyone in this world is meant to be well. I do believe in miracles, I do believe some people are healed. I don’t envy them because I’ve learned to be me, I’ve learned to live a really good life within the limitations of my illness and I don’t care that it’s limited. This is my life, these are the options I have open to me, so what, I can still have a great life and I’ll take those options.
I’m seriously not on the miracle journey anymore…
And if you are looking for the best help to improve your Ankylosing Spondylitis then for me it was the AS course at the Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath, UK. It changed my life (You can attend as a private patient).
My debut novel is due to be published 2nd May 2013 (writing fiction has been my preferred painkiller for years and now I can share my escapism characters). Sapphire Star Publishing are the publisher. If you want to find out more got to www.janelark.co.uk or like me on Facebook