Bell's Palsy and Other Detours: Part 3 Category:Life Views:
It's been a while since I wrote an update about my Bell's Palsy and the various and sundry complications and offshoots that have gone along with it. Truthfully, I never thought it would go on this long, but now that I am nearing the 4 month mark, I am no longer optimistic of a speedy recovery. That is not to say I am pessimistic about the outcome, but I am just being realistic about the recovery time. I am now headed into long-term illness territory and I will honestly say that I have had more than one panic stricken moment thinking about the ramifications of long-term illness, both in terms of my physical as well as my emotional well being, not to mention how those ramifications impact my family.
I won't go into the long-drawn-out diagnosis process, but rather, I will just cut to the chase and report that I have a rare autoimmune disease called Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED) along with another autoimmune disorder called Sjogren's Syndrome. Both of which have some forms of treatments, but really no cure. While finding out these diagnoses was a unsettling, I was glad to finally have a name for random mixture of symptoms (mind-numbing fatigue, dry mouth, digestive issues, weird rashes, dry skin, etc.) that have been dogging me for almost two years. If I hadn't gotten Bell's Palsy, acorneal ulcer and then developed hearing problems, I don't think I would have sought out an answer to all those other symptoms that had been brewing in my body. So, in a roundabout way, I am glad to have come down with Bell's Palsy. At least it forced me to seek medical attention. As sick as I was, I still fought the nnotion that there was something more sinister, and long term going on than a simple case of Bell's Palsy. If it hadn't been for the doctors who insisted that X, Y and Z be ruled out, or noticed anomalies and urged me to this specialist or that extra-special-specialist, which finally landed me in a Rheumatologist's office, I don't know where I would be right now.
Where I am now is this: I am taking a six pill dose of methotrexate once a week, which I started on 5/8. This will hopefully get my whacked out immune system back on track. I have already noticed some improvement in various random symptoms, but my hearing is hard for me to measure independent of a formal hearing test. I will be getting that tested in a couple of weeks. I am likely to be on this medication for the next 6-12 months. I don't like taking such a toxic drug, but it really was my only option since steroids were out of the question due to my history of avascular-osteonecrosis. I am also taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D three times a week due to a severe deficiency. As for the Bell's Palsy, it is getting better in small increments. I can almost smile with both sides of my face now and I can close my left eye, but only when I close my right eye at the same time. I still don't feel 100% comfortable in public yet. Not so much because of my paralyzed face but because of the hearing loss. I find it extremely hard to keep up with conversation, especially in restaurants with more than one other person at my table. Couple that with the fact that I have absolutely no energy to spare, and it keeps me home most of the time. I am hoping this improves because I miss my friends immensely.
So, now that I have brought us up to date on what is going on, let's talk a little about coming to terms with long-term illness. It is life-changing. Like it or not, when we find we have an autoimmune disease, life changes. It has to change, as we come to the realization that our lifestyle/habits/stress level, etc. is what triggered our immune system to malfunction in the first place. Autoimmune diseases are the only diseases in which the very thing we count on to keep us healthy, our immune system, does a 180 and actually attacks our body, causing illness. Knowing this is so very frustrating.
Following a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone about a subject I touched on in that blog. The subject being, how Christians talk about love and acceptance, but in practice, we don't always live up to those standards. The example I gave was of church visitors and how church members react differently towards LGBT visitors than a 'wholesome' looking heterosexual visitor. Both would likely be acknowledged, only the blatantly bigoted among us would completely ignore a visitor, but the heterosexual would be more warmly and readily accepted into the fold than the LGBT visitor.
As I was talking to this other person, I reiterated that I thought this was a wrong that needed to be righted - to which the person I was talking to asked - Why do you care? Everyone has preconceived notions about people based on all sorts of things, from the way others dress to their sexual orientation; that's just the way things are.Why do you care so much what other people do or how they think?
I was taken aback by this question so much that I was rendered speechless. At first, I admit, I thought - okay, maybe I am over thinking, and perhaps over stepping and I shouldn't care how other people react and behave. Maybe I should just mind my own business and live and let live. I couldn't stop thinking about it though. I tried to puzzle out in my mind, first of all, why do I care so much, and second, should I just accept this as the way of the world and let it go? The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that this is something it is okay to stick my nose in and my neck out and care about. Why? Because the status quo is wrong and I care about justice and equality for all. Nothing will ever change if we don't speak out against things we believe are wrong, even if, technically, it is none of our business.
I can't sit idly by and accept that people who are different should conform or be subject to inferior treatment, because this is basically what is going on. It should not be up to the people who are being judged to change to fit into the mold their judges have outlined for them. That is totally backward. It is the judges who need to change their attitudes and break down the ideas and stereotypes they have in their minds. Especially in church. If we, as a faith, cannot overcome our biases, then what is our mission? Why are we sitting in our pews in the first place? What is it we hope to accomplish by coming together every Sunday to worship, if we are only willing to worship with those who 'fit in' with us?
Is this what Jesus would have us do? I don't think so. I don't think he would stand still for this kind of silent injustice. He was the type to step way out of his comfort zone to find a way to reach someone with whom he had nothing in common except the common bond of human kindness.
I know it is human nature to congregate with those we connect with - with those who are like us. I get that. I get it, but I don't accept it as right. I think it is something that we need to fight against instead of lean on. It's not easy to undo years of preconception and turn toward something we have made a habit of avoiding. It's not easy because we are afraid. We are conditioned to fear anything that is different, so getting past that fear is a hurdle, for sure.
There should be no fear within the body of Christ, only love. 1 John 4:18tells us that perfect love (the love of Christ) drives out fear. It goes on to say that we cannot say we love God if we are not willing to show that same love to our fellow human beings. Our love has to extend beyond loving those inside the walls of our churches. Oh, a lot of us are very good at being charitable outside the church walls - at reaching out to those in need, and spreading God's love that way, but that is not the same as loving them as a brother/sister. That is a whole other type of love and ministry, one that we should continue. We can't stop there though, we have to stretch ourselves to love, and openly accept, everyone, regardless of their differences. He have to get over our discomfort and fear. Why? Because that's what we are told to do.
So, in short, I care because Jesus cared. I care because it's what I am asked to do as a Christian. I care because I believe we, as a church body, have to tell the world that snap judgments are wrong, hurtful and should be overcome. I believe we have to give more than lip service to the fact that Jesus accepts everyone, without condition. We have to act on that belief. And lastly, I care because if I don't, who will?
Osama Bin Laden is dead and people all over the United States are reveling. They are waving our flag and chanting "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye" from a pop music song in the streets. As an American, who was shocked and saddened by the 9-11 Terrorist Attacks, just like everyone else, I admit my first thought was - Good. Justice has been served.
Justice, I agree is necessary, but I stop short of advocating vengeance and taking pride in violence. As a human being, and as a Christian, I believe I am asked to dig a bit deeper than a surface need for revenge. I can quote scripture after scripture that tells us, as followers of Christ, to rise above the retaliatory feelings we all have. It's not that we don't have the feelings, just because we are Christians, but we are told to leave the vengeance to God.
I just can't stomach any more jubilation at death and I can't help but wonder how much harm the revelry is going to cause. Violence and blood-thirstiness only begets more violence and thirst for blood. The vicious cycle just keeps spinning and spinning. It is bound to spin back to the US at some point; that is just the way of war.
My peace-loving mind has a very hard time reconciling war of any kind. I do understand that we cannot just allow people to attack with impunity, but in the end, no matter who started it, too many people are left dead. No matter how we view the person who has died, that person was still a human being, and was someone's, brother, uncle, cousin, etc. and those people (fellow human beings) are left to mourn.
Why is it okay to revel in someone's death simply because he was someone 'we' hated? Does it not upset us when we hear others overjoyed at a victory over the US? Their view is we are 'their' enemy, so they rejoice in our weakness. The sword of vengeance cuts both ways, and it just keeps cutting, and cutting, and cutting.
Today, I am not jubilant. I am somber. I don't feel like celebrating and waving a flag of victory in my yard. Does that make me un-American? Not patriotic? Does it mean I am turning a calloused heart towards all of the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11/01, not to mention all of those who have died since in an effort to right the wrong that was meted out that day? I don't believe so. I love my country and I love and respect its soldiers and mourn for those who have died, as well as the families they left behind. My heart aches for them. What it does mean is that I dislike death and bloodshed and I feel no shame in admitting that I mourn also for the lives lost on the other side of the enemy lines and the families they left behind.
I also mourn for the enemy because I am sad that they wasted their lives hating others. I have no hatred in my heart for them because I don't want to waste my life on hatred. Jesus never wasted his time hating people. That was not his message or his mission. So, as for me, I am going to follow his example and his command as he laid out in Matthew 5:43-47: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
I realize that everyone has their own thoughts, reactions and beliefs; they have to follow their hearts as they see fit. I mean no disrespect to anyone. These are simply my thoughts, as well as my reasons for my feelings and my reactions.
I have to admit it. I am sometimes judgmental. I admit it without pride and with more than a little regret. I don't want to judge people. I want to be like Jesus. I want to look at everyone and see them, and their problems, through his eyes. Unfortunately there is a little thing called humanity that stands between my reactions/feelings and Jesus'. I strive to narrow that gap, however, by praying and reading scripture for insight and resolution. Sometimes that insight comes from those prayer and study sessions, and I can see more clearly right then and there. Then, other times, it takes a bit longer, and my insight doesn't come straight from prayer, it comes from a less obvious sourcee, but I believe that the insight is an answer to those prayers nonetheless.
I have been criticized in the past, by fellow Christians, for having close friendshipswith people who are not Christians. It's true, I have friends who are Pagan, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, and some who don't fit into any one category; my friends, they run the gamut. This has caused some people to question my faith because I don't adhere to setting myself apart enough. Those who criticize are welcome to their opinion, of course, but I respectfully disagree with said opinion. I will admit that having such varied friendships might not work for all Christians, and those who feel they can't hold onto their faith and their non-Christian friendships at the same time may wish to sequester themselves, so as not to get off track. For me, however, it just doesn't make sense.
Why would I want to deprive myself of time spent with wonderful people simply because they don't believe in Jesus the way I do? I gain so much from my friends, and iinstead of standing between me and God, it actually brings me closer to him and I have an example of this very thing happening in my life.
Recently, I was feeling rather resentful of various people, the details of why I was annoyed (read: judgmental) of these people doesn't matter; this is not about them, it is about me. I complained to a friend about this annoyingly judgmental attitude I had. This is a friend who happens to be a... well, I am not exactly sure how she would categorize her form of spirituality, but it is not traditional Christianity, of that I am certain. She listen patiently as I spoke of my annoyance and told me, not in so many words, but in essence - The problem is not with those who annoy you, Kim, the problem is with you and the way you are choosing to look at this issue. You have perspective problems, my friend, and you really should get your mind in focus.
Her observation struck me right between the eyes because, that is exactly what I believe Jesus would have said were he speaking to me himself. As a matter of fact, I know he would have, because I have evidence of him saying likewise to people in scripture. In hearing what she had to say, it reminded me of Jesus' perspective and forced me to swing my focus back to him; to see my situation through the lens of my faith. It was a clear answer to my prayer, for God to open my eyes and allow me to see people as he did.
Should I Never Mention Homosexualtiy? Category:Life Views:
Something very odd happens when I mention the word homosexuality (or gay) in one of my blogs. Mind you, it is not usually here, but on another website where I cross-post. The blog post doesn't even have to be about homosexuality itself; the theme of the post could be any number of things from my left-wing views to compassion. It doesn't matter what the original theme is. If I mention homosexuality someone (or more) invariably gloms onto my non-judgmental stance on the subject and will call me out on it. The whole of the rest of the blog is disregarded and the point is downright ignored, the focus goes solely to educating me on what the bible says about homosexuality.
From the moment they start to get into it with me, I already know exactly which scriptures they will quote to me and I can predict with a fair amount of accuracy exactly what they are going to say about the subject. They will usually first tell me that we are to love the sinner and hate the sin and assert that they love everyone no matter what the circumstance. BUT, and in this incidence, the but means - Now that I got what I was supposed to say out of the way, I am going to tell you how I really feel. At this point they post the scriptures, they call my attention to the fact that gayness is an abomination, asserting to me that God is very clear about this and his hatred of sin, and by extension, homosexuality, they argue that it isn't in the natural order of things, etc., etc..
Without exception, this is how the arguments go. It doesn't matter how many things I point out in the Bible that are equally as clear, if taken to literal extremes or how many scriptures about judgment and condemnation of judgment I quote, they don't hear me. I can visualize a virtual garage door closing over their mind as they read what I write back and focus on their next response to me, which is basically just a more emphatic repeat of what they said previously, with a possible condemnation of my perceived heresy thrown in for good measure.
I will never understand the Christian fixation on homosexuality and I have finished arguing the subject with people. Their minds are made up and all they see in me is some poor lost soul who hasn't latched on the the 'truth' yet. They are petty and sanctimonious and I don't need that kind of aggravation in my life. Heck, I'm not even gay. I just dislike injustice and oppression. Within the Christian community, I can see no other way to view the way that gays are treated, except unjust and oppressed.
I believe in the deepest depths of my heart that this is NOT what Jesus would have his servants do. He would not be party to injustice, prejudice and oppression. It goes against everything he stood for in his ministry. He stood up for the oppressed, disliked and unclean. That is the essence of who he was. Jesus' way is the brand of Christianity I choose to practice. I don't care if a person I am talking to/about is gay, or homeless, or addicted to crack, or (insert whatever unclean situation that comes to your mind), I will treat them all the same way I would treat any other member of my Christian community.
I have met so many Christians who believe in the 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' credo who feel that they treat all people equally as well, but they are fooling no one but themselves. Their actions speak so much louder than their pious words. They avert their eyes and perhaps mutter a 'hrmph' when they see a same sex couple walking toward them in the street. They treat the transgendered visitor at their church a bit less cordially than they do the nice straight couple sitting across the aisle. They raise a hand of objection if a lesbian congregant wants to teach a Sunday school class. I could go on and on with the examples, but until the 'Love the sinner hate the sin' assemblage starts to put their words to action, they are but empty words. Nothing could be farther from the example that Jesus set for us.