Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who has sinned?

At Living Room this Friday I'd like to once more discuss the topic of stigma. Stigma is something so many of us have trouble dealing with. Stigma often causes even more pain than the symptoms of our illness do. Stigma causes many of us to deny we have a problem. We're afraid to face up to the fact that we have a mental illness. So we don't go for help. We reject the medical care that might help us live easier lives. Stigma causes a lot of damage.

In Jesus' day too there was stigma attached to all forms of illness. Illness and disability was believed to be caused by a person's personal sin.

Jesus and his disciples came upon a blind man. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:2-3)

If we could only believe what Jesus says here! If we could only stand up to that stigma and not accept it! If we could only live, knowing that our illness is not our fault and that we are as okay as anyone else! We only happen to have a disorder, just like people have other disorders. If we could only manage to live without any sense of shame!

I have spoken openly about my life with bipolar disorder for over ten years now. I'm fortunate that I was able to do that, without fear of reprisals from employers that might not take kindly to having someone with a mental illness working for them. (My husband supports me well.) Having my articles and book published has been tremendously helpful. People respect me for coming out in the open. I have found friends who support me and understand me, fully knowing my problems.

There's nothing more wonderful than to be able to live without having to hide anything. I have no need to lie. I can be myself - fully, authentically myself. What freedom!

I wish this were possible for everyone!

Is this possible for you? Could you afford to me more open about your problems? How are you dealing with stigma?

6 comments:

Nancie said...

Marja,

Thank you for this precious reminder from God's Words that our afflictions are for His glory. How we need that comfort and assurance as we strive to live for Him!

I am so thankful to God for enabling you to share so openly about your condition and cope well with the stigma. There is still such a terrible stigma associated with mental illness in my country. I can't be so open to my employers as they most likely will reject me. I am thankful to God that I can work freelance and there is no need to declare health condition to my customers.

I am thankful too that I can be open and share with my church and friends. Many still do not understand and shy away. But many have become more informed, compassionate and prayerful. I hope one day I can contribute to help others like the way you do.

Thank God for enabling you to write so well and to serve Him through your book. I am greatly blessed and encourage by your writing. May God bless you with His love and abundant blessings and continue to make you a blessing to others.

With love and prayers,
Nancie

marja said...

Thank you, Nancie. I'm glad that you're able to freelance so that you don't have to worry about employers. I found that a good way to work as well when I was younger. It's also helpful at times when you're not well and not able to work as much.

I'm glad as well that you've been able to be open with church friends. That's so very important.

Jena said...

Thank you for this post. I thought a lot about what your wrote. I am still not 100% sure how i'm going to handle things in the future, near future even. I guess just one day at a time. I do think that all I've been through has not been by accident. I think there's a purpose and a plan that involve what is happening now and i have to just trust that. Maybe it will include stigma busting just like you, maybe not. Who knows ? ;)

marja said...

Hi Jena,

Yes, one day at a time is the way we need to live. As long as we stay close to God, walking beside him, he will lead us. We just need to trust that he will - eventually - show us what he means for us to do.

In the meantime, you can prepare for what might be ahead. Develop the skills and talents God has given you, because you never know how valuable they may be in carrying out the plans he has for you.

Merelyme said...

hey there...i apologize for not having visited you in so long. between moods and medical stuff...it has been hard lately. wanted you to know how very much i have appreciated your offer of support and friendship. you are truly a remarkable woman and i am glad to know you.

marja said...

Merelyme,

I know how it is. I have a hard time keeping up with everyone too - too much stuff in my life now-a-days. But I do like looking in on you now and then. I enjoy your blog and your open sharing of your life. Thanks for visiting, Merelyme.