Last week, I gave my testimony at church. I shared my story of chronic illness, of being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and the emotional and spiritual effects of being sick. If you want to listen to my testimony in its entirety, you can access it here. (Entitled Storrs Testimony 4.26.15) I started my testimony by opening with this quote by Kat Duff, author of The Alchemy of Illness:
“There is, perhaps rightly so, an invisible rope that separates the sick from the well, so that each is repelled by the other, like magnets reversed. The well venture forth to accomplish great deeds in the world, while the sick turn back onto themselves and commune with the dead, neither can face the other very comfortably, without intrusions of envy, resentment, fear, or horror. Frankly, from the viewpoint of illness, healthy people seem ridiculous, even a touch dangerous, in their blinded busyness, marching like soldiers to the drumbeat of duty and desire.”
And by the end of my testimony, I said that I disagreed with this quote, even though her precise words give profound insight to the “different worlds” the sick and the well tend to inhabit. The sick and the well shouldn’t be separate. If we are the church, we should still do relationship together, learning, struggling, celebrating and mourning together. And that’s hard work, and it’s extremely uncomfortable. The sick can tend to be jealous and bitter towards everything the person who is healthy can do. And the healthy person, who can have more relationships and activities can think the sick person is lazy, lacking willpower, and is ignorant to the daily mental battle.
The tension is worth it though, it leads to change in both people. It leads to a willingness to understand someone who is different, a willingness to explore difficult emotions. Yet tension in relationship should be more of the norm. Healthy relationships are hard work-especially if differences multiply. Yet as time slows down, and we listen to one another, truer, deeper friendships emerge.
Do we as the church just gather those people who are similar to us?
How much do we appreciate diversity of all forms?
What healthy tensions exist in your friendships?