A December Post That is for Every Month

I found this lovely posting that was both personally relevant and in fact timeless. How many times I have felt these things in church--and in fact in most public places! The problem of invisible disability is frustrating, to say the least. We don't want to bring it up because people feel they have the right to ask us personal questions and then offer up their own experiences of pain and worst of all their suggestions for cure or symptom management. I have given up sharing it with new acquaintances and play it down with old ones. It's just too painful to try to get understanding. I salute Kit Watson for her contribution:

22nd December - The chronically ill

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30
You probably know several people who have invisible disabilities. Perhaps they struggle with dyslexia, fatigue or chronic pain. Perhaps they have Crohn's disease or other problems with their bowels. Perhaps they have another problem that you didn't realise when you first met them.
While churches are generally welcoming and helpful, they can sometimes be difficult places for those of us with invisible disabilities, especially because we are often reluctant to ask for help.
Some things to consider that may make life easier for us:
  • Some people struggle to physically get to church, or to get there on time. Does your church encourage the offering of lifts? Are there services in the afternoon or evening for those who find mornings really difficult?
  • How long are the normal services? Might they be too long for someone with fatigue or chronic pain? Are there ways of including short breaks within the services?
  • What is the seating like in your church? Are extra cushions readily available for those who find it hard to sit for a while? Are there seats near the entrance available for those who find walking uncomfortable? Are there seats from which someone can get to the loo surreptitiously?
  • Are the service sheets clear and easy to follow?
  • When people are requested to stand, they feel obligated to do so, even if it is very uncomfortable for them. Could your minister invite people to 'stand if they're up to it'?
  • If your church has Eucharist services, is it easy for people to signal that they would like to receive it at their seat? Is it obvious that they don't need to kneel?
  • When we offer each other a sign of peace, are we keeping an eye out for those who are staying in their seats rather than walking about?
  • Are there any other ways in which we can support people with invisible disabilities?

This person with invisible disabilities thanks you very much.
Kit Watson is an Anglican living in Salford. She has severe fibromyalgia, so she struggles constantly with fatigue and chronic pain. She is very proud of finally writing this piece!

Daily prayer

Lord, help us to remember the chronically ill within our churches - particularly those with unseen disabilities. Help us to be mindful of the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who struggle often in silence to shoulder weighty burdens. May they not carry them alone.
Amen

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