Tuesday, September 04, 2012
A Wake-Up Call
by Colleen Swindoll Thompson
A large percentage of those with disabilities struggle in silence because they have an “invisible” condition. Also called “hidden disabilities,” struggling people are often afraid to be open about their condition and work tirelessly at appearing healthy and happy. Those with such “hidden” disabilities struggle to endure their mental, physical, and emotional disorders specifically due to social judgment, harsh comments, assumptions, and accusations—all of which can lead to self-doubt and deep sorrow.
Unfortunately, a shocking aspect of disability ministry is that many non-typical families—families who have members with “invisible” disabilities—run from Christian communities. Why? Because the environment is often caustic and critical, lacking basic kindness and authentic grace. I do not believe most Christians wake up and wish to further injure someone already in pain. But I continue to find that ignorance, as well as a lack of seeking to understand one another, fuels many judgmental folks.
The Need to Wake Up
I address this directly because the agony is pervasive. I commonly speak with challenged individuals or families who have shared their personal agony of visiting or attending a Christian gathering only to receive insensitive or apathetic responses. Finding healing for the resulting wounds is extremely difficult for those already fighting painful and persistent challenges. So please, seek to understand others; take a few minutes to look up some of the more common ”invisible” disabilities listed at the end of this post. There is no test; there is nothing to fear except choosing to stay unmoved.
I have never written this directly to you before, but the need is pressing as the diagnosis rate for many of these disorders has skyrocketed in the last 10 years (http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/statistics/who-disability.php). Thus, I am speaking without reservation. Every professing Christian needs to step up and become better learners and listeners. We must remember that as a result of our own broken condition, Christ left the throneroom of heaven and came to this earth. Sin is an “invisible” disability for which there remains no cure without Christ. What we cannot do for ourselves, God did by sending His Son to live, die, and rise again. Not a person on earth lives with an unbroken, perfect soul. Our names all appear on God’s disability care treatment list with God’s eternal plan of healing should we accept His gift of grace.
Maybe this is the first time you have heard that sin has caused your soul to be disabled. Please, sit with that this week. Allow the truth to sink in.
You are, because of sin, disabled.
When you begin to accept your own disability, giving grace to others is not even a second thought . . . it will flow out of you. So let‘s take this as a wake-up call and stop the wounding, the disasters, the breaking of already broken hearts and remember we are all disabled. God’s grace is the permanent healing remedy. Without it, the diagnosis is terminal. No relief. No hope.
I encourage you to find and read a simple overview of any of the topics listed below. It is my hope that you will learn to see past the “invisible” and into a person’s heart.
List of some mental and emotional disorders:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Borderline Personality Disorder
Dual Diagnosis and Integrated Treatment of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder