What Does Listening Have to do with Invisible Illness?

listeningWhat if we stopped talking about what to say or not say to one with an illness and just asked people to listen? Laura shares.

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1-2).

We recently recognized Invisible Illness Week in September, a time to celebrate and raise awareness of those dealing with medical conditions that are not visible to others.

Invisible: unable to be seen, not visible to the eye. Ignored or not taken in to consideration.

Invisible . . . that is a difficult word to digest. Those dealing with chronic or long-term illness have a hard enough time handing the ramifications of such illnesses.

But can you imagine being ignored by others? It is difficult to comprehend, but many have been ignored or their illnesses minimized.

I have heard more times than I can count “you look so good.” It is a confusing statement as one wonders if that is a compliment or rather a way for others to say “y’know, you look too healthy to be sick! It can’t be that bad.”

I could give examples of feeling minimized, but I won’t. When it happens, I feel invisible, hidden, and ignored. And yet, I don’t like attention–there are times I would like to fade in the background.

And that’s the paradox–because these illnesses makes us feel invisible sometimes, yet we crave to be treated normally.

One of the best things someone did for me since being diagnosed is treat me like a person, not an illness. A former colleague hugged me when I saw him, said “How are you doing? How are your kids?” And then he listened until I asked the same of him.

Listening is a great validator. It is easy, free , and produces amazing results.

Jesus often listened and was a constant support to those in need. Remember, we are surrounded by our Savior’s love always, and must share that love with others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, it is difficult to live with a chronic condition. Help us to live with grace, remembering that You support us. Amen.

About the author:
Laura Seil Ruszczyk lives in New York with her husband of 26 years and her three children. She is a retired elementary school counselor who currently runs a HopeKeepers group at her church. She has dysautonomia, the deregulation of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls such invisible functions as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and temperature control.

How do you handle your invisible illness on a day-to-day basis?

This is Casting Crowns singing “Just Be Held.” If you have ever been tired of fighting, tired of everyone around you just figuring you will be fine, I am sure you will like this song. Sometimes we need to just let go of the world and be held by God–whatever that looks like to you. I am putting this one on my playlist. -Lisa