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Ergonomics and ME/CFS: Have You Hurt Yourself Without Knowing It?
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CFS turned my spiritual life, and my church world, upside down

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Jody, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Before I got sick, I was involved deeply with my church. I'd spent ten years in a Baptist church around the time I got married 30 yrs ago. And then spent ten years in a Pentecostal church.

    I ran a Christian website with my husband Alan, called Ncubator Christian Resource Directory. We had articles submitted by Christian writers, a directory on our site and thousands of links to Christian websites. Christian news sources, the works.

    Al and I also ran a homeschool group with a Christian foundation to it for 6 yrs or so.

    Loved it all at the time. Miss it still, desperately. But my life is beginning to piece itself back together especially in this past year.

    For the worst years of sickness I had few thoughts about anything -- rather like if you're going down for the second and third time ... not alot of thoughts other than -- Help!!

    Then things began to settle down a bit. I could take a conscious look around. The natural tendency I think is to pick up where you left off before becoming ill. Looking up old friends, etc.But I realized, with shock, that the world I'd known and embraced did not exist for me to go back to any longer.

    Partly because a number of years had passed. The kids and families in the homeschool group for instance, had gotten older and new families had come in. The church I'd left had few of the old faces I'd known and loved now.

    And Ncubator ... we closed 'er down when I was at my sickest and it was no longer on the net. Though apparently some old book reviews of mine are still floating around on google ... :rolleyes:

    But the biggest change was inside me. I no longer had many of the same beliefs and assumptions that I'd based my life on before cfs. That church world, that homeschool group, and even my beloved ncubator.com, were no longer representative of how I saw life. I wouldn't have fit. Even in the things I'd helped create.

    I realize this is mostly preamble:p and I haven't begun to say what changed or why, in terms of my beliefs. But I have worn myself out already so I am stopping here for now.

    I'm sure that what I've gone through is not so different from what many of us have gone through. The type of affiliations we all have had will differ of course, but I'm sure others have had dark nights of the soul, times of having to reevaluate belief systems ...

    People may feel very passionate about some of this stuff. And what I have turned away from may be something you still love, or vice versa.

    It is important that we respect each other's rights to personal beliefs. If we all do this, then this thread can be a place to sort out stuff that for many of us, maybe it hasn't been possible to talk about at all.

    And we may find that whatever our particular beliefs, we are not too different after all.
  2. Snez

    Snez Senior Member

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    Jody,
    I am very interested in your story. In fact, I was meaning to ask how your beliefs have changed. This is a intimate part of you and I feel honoured that you want to discuss your spiritual journey with us.

    It is important that we be allowed to mull over these important facets of our lives- to sort out what has happened in our souls as a result of our suffering.

    Thank you.

    Snez
  3. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    When we were running ncubator.com we were in a fairly unique position to be hearing from people who did not come from the same denominational belief system we held to.

    At a time I was searching for answers to new questions, I had some surprising emails and links come my way because of ncubator.com.

    But I am getting ahead of myself. My first new question was, how do I fit into a church when I am too ill to attend, too ill to be in the departments and ministries that had made my church life feel so fulfilling. I was now only able to sit in a pew once in awhile, and saw how many members felt as pew-sitters.

    They were on the outside, as I was now on the outside. They were observers of that handful of us who were so actively involved. I hadn't known till this point how my church looked to the majority of its members. There was an elite ... and then there was the rest of them.

    Disturbing to me. And problematic. I wasn't happy sitting in a pew. But I had no energy to do more.

    So I began to look more into the first century church's history. I was sure that things had taken many wrong turns over the centuries and was convinced that I wouldn't recognize a first century type of church, a "real" church to my new way of thinking, if I fell over it.

    I began to research the early history of the church and was astonished by much of what I found.

    Okay, I am tired out again. This is a little more emotionally taxing than I expected. :rolleyes: I'm not feeling "emotional", I don't mean that. Just that it is taking a good deal of energy to pull this stuff out and look at it again.

    But I think it's probably a good idea. I will come back to it. :)
  4. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Snez,

    You must have posted this while I was writing my last post, didn't see it till just now. :)

    Thanks for what you've said.

    I turned away completely from God for a number of years, after trying to absorb much of what I found, and after some of the events in my church just before I left there. I also was looking at how in a church that majored on healing and prosperity ... here I was all those years later sicker than ever and still in poverty. I had to re-evaluate everything I'd ever believed and see if it held water. It has taken many years to come back to the place where I know that I believe that God exists and that He and I have talked to each other over the years. That is the only thing, really, that remains of my old beliefs.

    I am still in the process of finding out what I do and do not believe.
  5. starcycle

    starcycle Guest

    Subscribed for further reading. Burned out a little in the other thread, have to take a rest break, just wanted to say I'm reading and interested. more later, thanks.
  6. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Thanks starcycle. :)

    Still puffed out a bit myself. I will try to write more later.

    Maybe other people will chime in here as well. :)
  7. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    Hi Jody

    I hope you don't mind me joining in with this thread, a lot of what you say has been my own experience in that I had to re-evaluate everything I believed, was away from God for a long time and nearly lost my faith.

    I have had a very stormy spiritual experience due to long term sickness, being on the outside of the church scene and living the aftermath of childhood abuse.

    What I eventually found was that the doctrines the churches on both sides of the divide did not stand up to the reality of my experience or what other believers told me. It threw me into studying the scriptures myself and struggling with God over the many questions I had.
  8. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    I'm really imterested in what you found out from the early church years. I did some study on this and it confirmed my new beliefs.

    Just to give you a quick potted history, I was converted at 23 after an atheistic upbringing when I met a born again couple. My time has been in reformed baptist chuirches and some time in charismania.
  9. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    LOL,

    No Brenda, I don't mind you joining in with the thread at all. Glad to have you. :)
  10. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Brenda,

    Charismania is a term I'm familiar with though I haven't heard it for some years.

    Maybe we have more in common than we realized. :)
  11. RestingInHim

    RestingInHim Realist

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    Thank you!

    Jody,

    Thank you for writing this! i have experienced a somewhat similar journey re: church since my health has deteriorated more over the last 3-4 years. it is good to know I'm not alone.

    my journey, thankfully, hasn't robbed me of belief in God or in Christ, for which i am grateful (i already experienced that struggle early in my adulthood)...but it has caused me to contemplate about the church today - my place in it and it's in mine. i too have been looking at what Scripture says about the church and how, why, how often the early church met. i have been an active church-goer and have served my whole adult life. i also served 30 years in a parachurch organization. so church-going for me has been integrated into my life.

    my illness led to my retiring 1 1/2 yrs ago from a very visible ministry in my community. i had been barely hanging on by a thread for the last 3 years of serving. during that time...and now...i found even attending church difficult. like you...i have only been able to go once-in-a-while. this has led to contemplating the place of church, what is really provided/required by God in it, and if i am finding a place of fellowship & worship with others. i have gained freedom in this.

    i host a study group of women who love God and who are thinkers as they study the Bible. they go to different churches. we meet every other week and take turns leading and we pray together each time. i am able to make it most of the time. here i am in touch with other believers. i know this doesn't provide all the church is intended to, but i also have oppts to attend worship periodically.

    i've thought a lot about why it is so hard for me to attend church. i love the pastor and his teaching is excellent. i think it's because many friends attend there and when i do manage to go, i get bombarded with "how are you doing?". i realize they are being loving and kind...and i would probably feel badly if they didn't ask...but it is very emotionally taxing. just the thot of going tires me.

    i also think the reason it is so emotionally taxing is that i've been on the "inside" of other churches, like you, and i've been hurt. i'm not one to dwell on those things...and i know this is just reality...but i think this may still effect me. so just going for worship with others in a church where i know nothing or little about the "inside" helps.

    so i have found, not by my design, that attending with my kids at a church out of town periodically, as well as other worship opportunities, has filled the need for corporate worship and participating in communion. i am grateful also to have been able to pick up speaking opportunities in recent months, scheduled 2months apart. these are also occasions of worship with others. this seems to be God's provision for me for now.

    all of this to say...in my illness i am experiencing more of the reality of the Church on a bigger scale...that God's provision isn't limited to a local body. i've always known that...but am experiencing it more now . i do still believe the local body is important and that we need to be a part of a group of believers on some level...but i'm realizing at different times in our lives, that make look differently.

    this is way too long...and i'm pooped!

    Thanks again for writing. i'm looking forward to hearing more of your journey...now that i've spilled my guts!

    still resting...some days more than others!
  12. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    I am sure we do :)

    You were really involved weren't you. I was always on the outside with long periods of not going to church and just frankly not caring. I was just fed up with trying to make sense of it all for a long time.

    The things that other Christians said did not seem to apply to me. One thing that really got me was that they said that God would not give me more than I could cope with and I knew that was wrong - it was too much. Later I found a verse that confirmed what I thought - sometimes it does get too much to bear. I just thought that God did a number on me so many times.

    I went down and down for a long time. I married a non believer.

    But the point of this is that I came up again but in a totally different way and I found help in saints like Madame Guyon and St John of the Cross who also suffered greatly. It started to make sense and I started to look for God again because I knew that I had nowhere else to go - I was no good for this world after finding Him but no good to Him either.

    This is about the time that i found out that I had been trying to do everything in my own strength and that reformed theology and charismanic theology are flawed and were not the theology of the writers who were speaking to me.

    More later - only if you want :D
  13. RestingInHim

    RestingInHim Realist

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    hope i didn't intrude

    hope i didn't intrude on this thread. i'm still learning how this all works. but i also hope somehow you were encouraged.
  14. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    I have pondered for a long time why there is no place for the long term sick and have decided it is because the theology is wrong.

    On the one side we have charismatics who say that we are to claim our healing. So we can't fit in there. Then the reformed think that all one has to do is to listen to the sermon every week and unless we chose to continue to sin we will be blessed in our lives and of course able to attend church.

    It is just hard to fit it in that people can be sick year after year and not get better.

    I guess it makes some start to think unthinkable things about God that they don't want to face as it conflicts with their theology.

    I usually ended up as an object of embarrassment - they had no pigeon hole to put me in :)

    Niow I have found peace with that and have been able to forgive them and still have fellowship with others who are on the outside.

    Good to see you here Resting.
  15. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Resting,

    You are most certainly not intruding. :)

    This is why I started the thread, to start a conversation with anyone and everyone with something they want to say on the subject.
  16. RestingInHim

    RestingInHim Realist

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    theological tyranny

    you're right...it all comes back to Scripture...and those who have lived with on-going suffering. Jesus didn't heal everyone...He healed some. theological labels are binding, not freeing. we are promised freedom when we know the truth...not always freedom from our circumstances, but freedom in them. i take comfort (most of the time :rolleyes:) in knowing God has a purpose in suffering. i don't know what all it is...but i do know it has caused me to focus more on Him and relationship than on other stuff.

    sorry...i think i'm teaching instead of sharing. habit. :)

    try Amy Carmichael's writings (forgot to name these on the reading thread)...especiallly Rose from Brier...written by one who suffered 20 years with health. i re-read it about every year. also Gold by Moonlight.
  17. RestingInHim

    RestingInHim Realist

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    Thanks, Jody. that's what i thought.
  18. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    When I left my church it wasn't because of being angry about some things going on ... though I was angry about some things. But I would have stayed if I thought it was the right thing for me to do.

    By that time though I had come to see many things differently.

    In my researching I saw a very different church in its early days. And I saw how many secular ideas from other cultures, and from other religions had found their way into dogma.

    For instance, I found that there had been no such thing as the present day pastor, nor any such thing as the present day church building as the gathering place or the place to eat up most of the finances. The teachings I'd learned about tithing and giving were also ... different from the early days.

    Believers met in houses. When the gatherings got too big, they split into two groups and met in more houses. There were elders who ... facilitated meetings, making sure the big mouthpieces didn't monopolize and the quieter ones got a chance to speak. The people came together and ate a meal. Those with much brought extra to share with those who had little.

    People came prepared to take part. With a song, a prayer, a word ... everyone took part.

    The present day pastor comes from a Greek tradition of the time, where an orator would get up and speak to an audience. The building came from Constantine, a new convert, thinking it would be great to have a place for the churches to meet. And he did it the Greek (secular) way as that was what he was familiar with.

    He then brought in the two-tiered system we all know, where there is a pastor and inner circle and ... the spectators.

    Pastors became a more entrenched feature a few centuries later when the catholic church decided the position should be a paid one so they could get more pastors... and the congregations were to support them and the building.

    Leaving the doctrinal belief that true religion is taking care of the widows and the orphans. Taking care of the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. Sheltering the vulnerable. The average church goer has no time or resources to do these things because they are carrying the responsibility of paying a pastor and for a building. All their time is spent running programs in the church. They don't have a chance to get to the true work of the church. And are never really shown that this is what it should be about.

    This was my experience at any rate. And it changed how I saw everything church-related. And I needed to leave.
  19. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Resting,

    Good. :)
  20. RestingInHim

    RestingInHim Realist

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    my blog...

    Jody, actually wrote something along these lines on my blog...was that yesterday or today? a lament. check it out if you're interested.

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