Tag Archives: Doubt

I Resolve to Believe You

“But you LOOK good” “You just want attention”
“But you don’t LOOK sick”

resolve-to-believe-sherri-connellAnother year is about to dawn and of course I need to make at least one resolution. The good news is that I know I can keep this one. I resolve to believe you! I resolve to listen and acknowledge the pain and illness you live with daily even though your symptoms might be invisible.

For me, the opposite of believing is prejudice. Prejudice defined by Dictionary.com is “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.” How many times have we been frustrated and impatient as we wait for the person in the cross walk at the store? They seem to walk so slow and we are in a hurry. Why can’t they speed it up? Maybe they are in chronic pain or have a myriad of other illnesses or injuries that we cannot see. I say that we sure err on the side of caution and belief first, not be suspicious and prejudice.

Or maybe we have seen the person park in a designated Accessible Parking Spot and they exit their car and proceed to the shop or office without using a cane or wheelchair and with no noticeable signs of injury or disability. Many of us have seen the notes left on windshields of people just like this person. The notes are full of anger and mistrust. One example is in the article by Phil Mutz. “A Disabled Veteran Responds to a Nasty Note Left on His Windshield.” Here is another story with the same subject “Note shames mother for using disability parking spot,” by Victoria Sanchez of KUSA. And one more example was written by Parker Lee of the Independent Journal Someone Left a ‘Faker’ Note by Her Handicapped Tag. Here’s What They Didn’t Know About Her.”

People would question, stare and scream at my wife, Donna, for parking in “Handicap” parking spaces. Even though she has lived with overwhelming pain, fatigue and neurological symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis and since the symptoms are not noticeable, people tend to jump to judging her first. Because of her struggles with people understanding her disabilities, Donna thought the phrase, “invisible disabilities” aptly described the debilitating illness, pain and injury she battles along with millions of others around the world.

The Invisible Disabilities Association was launched 20 years ago, in 1996. One of their first pamphlets was Don’t Judge by Appearances , addressing the issue of misunderstandings surrounding disabled parking. The last few sentences in the pamphlet are crucial “Therefore, if a person is displaying a license to park in an accessible parking space, try offering a hand, instead of a visual judgment. After all…the people you are graciously intending to defend, may be standing right in front of you!”

Yet disabled parking is only one example of the disbelief people have of those living with illness and pain. Oftentimes the person living with illness and pain is misjudged because of their appearance. Sherri Connell (picture above) was a model, actress and pageant winner before she became sick. She still looks stunning and people tend to disregard when she tells them about the bone crushing pain, fatigue and brain fog she deals with daily. Her and her husband, Wayne Connell, wrote the book, But You LOOK Good: How to Encourage and Understand People Living with Illness and Pain because people for some reason think their loved ones who look good can’t possibly be sick or at least not as sick as they contend they are.

Creator of the Spoon Theory, well known author and blogger Christine Miserandino has dealt with this issue as well.  The following is from her website, ButYouDontLookSick.com. “From the age of fifteen, Christine Miserandino has been diagnosed with a myriad of illnesses from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Epstein Barr, and finally, many years later to a determination of Lupus. As though battling a shopping list of symptoms, Christine has consistently been told, by both well-wishers and doctors alike, But you don’t look sick.” as if that was some kind of compensation for being chronically ill. Many times, being pretty or not sickly looking, made it harder to validate an illness you cannot see.”

Even super model and actress, Yolanda Foster has encountered the mistrust of not only strangers, but friends and co-workers as well in regards to her diagnosis of Lyme Disease. The following is from the article “’Is this even real?’ Lisa Rinna suggests Yolanda Foster may be faking Lyme disease on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” in the DailyMail.com.

“Yolanda Foster has been suffering from Lyme disease, but Lisa Rinna on Tuesday’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills showed her skepticism.

Lisa, 52, suggested to Kyle Richards and Lisa Vanderpump that the former model might be faking the symptoms for attention.

The former Days of Our Lives actress grew sniffy about Yolanda’s social media output.

‘I feel that Yolanda’s posts on Instagram can be confusing, because one minute she’s in a hospital bed with needles in her arm and the next she’s on a yacht looking like she’s having a great time,’ said Lisa.

The Melrose Place actress then read a description of Munchausen syndrome or ‘factitious disorder’ – where people feign illness to gain attention or sympathy.”

The belief that people living daily with illness and pain really just “want attention” is not the truth in most cases. The problem is that disability and pain usually brings abandonment and isolation, not attention. If someone was seeking attention, having an illness or injury would not be the best way to go about it. The loneliness of illness and pain is very real.

I think of IDA Ambassador and award winning, singer songwriter Mandy Harvey. Even though Mandy is profoundly deaf, her voice is clear and beautiful. As a singer, she is often mistrusted because of her deafness. Some people can’t believe that she can sing so incredibly well and not hear what she is singing herself. Wayne Connell has been on radio interviews with Mandy and can understand why people think the way they do. How can she respond to the interviewer so quickly, she must hear something? Actually, Mandy uses a very cool piece of technology on her phone called Clear Captions. Anytime she is on her phone, the words spoken by the caller are typed on her screen by an individual with Clear Captions and Mandy then responds to the caption. Actually, it is quite exhausting for her to read and respond verbally so quickly. Mandy also reads lips very well.

Just because we may not understand an illness or disability, doesn’t mean we need to disbelieve people living with them. Kara O’Daniel is also someone who has felt the sting of misunderstandings regarding her disability.  Kara’s brother Kyle writes the following about her.

“My twin sister, Kara, hasn’t had the easiest go at things over the last 24 years. She has gone through a lot and handled it all with patience and grace. Through all her struggles she has always found a way to be there for others and help as many people as she can.

Her most recent endeavor is a result of this selfless habit; she is starting a career as a motivational speaker, sharing her story with those who need to hear it the most. What is this story, you ask? Well.

It’s a story of 39 surgeries, endless struggles with Spina Bifida, and countless inspiration for all those who are fortunate enough to have Kara as part of their lives.

HER goal is to share her story and advice with those who are in similar situations; to those like her who have struggled through so many times.”

Kara also shared with Wayne Connell her journey with Spina Bifida and how it has been difficult because of the misunderstandings surrounding it. Kara is able to walk because of numerous surgeries and therefore people often don’t believe her. They think that all people with Spina Bifida must be in a wheel chair. This same misunderstanding impacts people with MS. Being in a wheelchair is not always indicative of someone’s disability or even the severity of their disability. Using a wheel chair is because someone is unable to walk, maybe for the moment or maybe all of the time.

I resolve to believe you this year. Let’s believe people first. Let’s not play armchair doctor and think we know. Let’s listen and acknowledge and learn from the people who know best, those who live daily with pain and illness and disability. They are the true experts. Let’s not judge people by how they appear or don’t appear. I love the quote from IDA Advisory Board Member, Peter Strople: “When in Doubt, Love.” Let’s love and encourage and believe people living with illness and pain. Life is struggle enough for them. Let’s not make it worse by our words and prejudice.

Join me this year and every year to resolve TO BELIEVE. Let’s all envision a world where people living with illness, pain and disability will be Invisible No More!

Donald J. Trump

In searching the internet, reading the papers and listening to the TV, I see where Donald Trump has received a lot of negative publicity. No one, and I mean basically NO ONE likes Mr. Trump.

Why? What has Donald Trump personally done to you to not vote for him? Have you picked up an offense from someone? Why are you so critical of this man? If even the Supreme Court was the only issue to vote for him that should be enough—the future of your children and grandchildren are at stake. He has given us his pro-life constitutional sound nominations!

I believe there are biblically sound insights regarding this volatile election and this man Donald Trump.

To put things into a Biblical perspective, ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Do you consider him your enemy?

Luke 6:27-28 (NKJV)

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

 

  1. Do you believe he hates you?

Leviticus 19:17 (NKJV)

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.

has he cursed you?

Colossians 4:6 (NKJV)

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

has he spitefully used you?

Psalm 37 (NKJV)

The Heritage of the Righteous and the Calamity of the Wicked

A Psalm of David.

37 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

 

do you have bitterness in your heart towards him?

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)

15 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

  1. How should one respond if you are a Christian conservative?

Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV)

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

Have I picked up someone else’s offence against Donald Trump?

We must be honest here. Where did this possible doubt, anger, bitterness, frustration, and contention come from towards Donald Trump? If you have no personal relationship with Donald Trump, then you have acquired someone else’s offense. What should be the biblical response if you are a Christian conservative?

Acts 24:16 (NKJV)

16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

The answer is easy as we extend forgiveness, restoration, and love towards that individual.

Accusations, slander, and criticism is what nurtures division, especially in the body of Christ. A house divided cannot stand (see Matthew 12:25). As a Christian have you ever considered that the enemy of our souls, namely Satan, may be deceiving us and using those who have hardened their hearts against Trump? This could be a possibility to bring division.

Be aware of pride and heard heartedness!

I write this as a former observer of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. I observed people who said early on they would never vote for Donald Trump no matter what. Hearts became very hard and pride settled in because to change their position now really would be an act of HUMILITY. Pride is usually accompanied by stubbornness and arrogance. Blindness is a result and a veil is put over a heart.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

I must vote my conscience!

For many this means not voting for Donald Trump. Instead they will vote third party, write-in a candidate, or maybe not vote at all. You must logically reason this out and realize it is a vote for Hillary Clinton—and what she stands for. There is no way around this. Waiting another four years would neutralize any candidate that you would prefer to be President.

Questions:

  1. Does my conscience stand for a conservative pro-life U.S. constitutionally-based Supreme Court (Trump gave us a list of pro-life constitutionally sound judges that he would nominate)?
  2. Does my conscience allow a candidate to take office who would most assuredly nominate liberal judges that would impact my children and grandchildren’s lives for the next forty years (look at Trump’s nominations)?
  3. Does my conscience agree with restoring the rule of law and order in our nation (Trump states the he will restore that)?
  4. Does my conscience agree with protecting Christian liberties, our freedom of speech, and eliminating the 501(c)3 tax status so pastors could speak freely (Trump said he would do all of these)?
  5. Does my conscience realize that our present open borders are allowing in gang cartels, ISIS, and Muslim extremists that endanger all American lives, including my own family possibly (Trump understands and said he would put a stop to that)?
  6. Does my conscience allow NO vetting of refugees from nations who are predominantly Muslim (Trump will vet and stop this illegal immigration—Hillary will not and increase immigration)?
  7. Does my conscience see radical Islam as a threat and realize it must be addressed? (According to Ret. Lt. General Jerry Boykin a Cruz campaigner said we must vote for Trump and has Generals advising Trump.)
  8. Does my conscience see the plight of people in our inner cities and jobs needed to bring hope back to all minority groups (policies of last eight years have failed)?
  9. Does my conscience support police, our military, and border agents who need our help and they overwhelmingly support Donald Trump?
  10. Does my conscience realize that Common Core in our educational system is detrimental to our children (Trump would eliminate Common Core)?
  11. Does my conscience see that Obamacare is destroying our health care system in America (Trump will repeal and reinvent new strategy)?
  12. Does my conscience see a need to preserve our second amendment as it was designed to stop oppressive government (Trump said he would protect our second amendment rights—endorsed by NRA)?
  13. Does my conscience favor Socialism/Globalism or freedom (Hillary is a pure progressive socialist and globalist)?
  14. Does my conscience value having a Christian on the Presidential ticket and Christians advising the President (Pence and a Christian advisory team has been assembled)? Hmmmmmmmmmmm
  15. Does my conscience allow me to judge another person’s heart (Trump) when the Bible says only God looks at the motive and intents of the heart?

My conscience gives me the responsibility to look out for the future of my children and grandchildren so they can lead a peaceable and godly life. So I will pray for those in authority with all my heart, which may be the Trump/Pence team (see I Timothy 2:1-5).

I will continue to pray for Hillary Clinton—that her eyes would be opened and also for our current President Obama. Many have been praying for them over the years, but it appears they have chosen to harden their hearts. With Donald Trump I can see a veil being lifted and his eyes being opened. If we diligently pray for him and stop the accusations, the Scripture below will manifest itself because he is open to a biblical worldview paradigm.

Proverbs 21:1 (NKJV)

21 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

I cannot, in good conscience, vote for the lesser of two evils

Many consider Trump evil and Hillary Clinton more evil. When have we ever NOT voted for the lesser of two evils? The only perfect candidate is Jesus Christ! Reflect back on all those you have voted for. You will see that all men are flawed in one way or another. When Mitt Romney ran he belonged to what many consider a cult and did not have many of the conservative positions that Donald Trump has. Did you vote for George W. Bush, who was a member of secret societies and said that Islam and Christianity serve the same God? I could easily point out the flaws in Ted Cruz as this election process unfolded—dishonesty and name calling. I understand that he is just a man as you and I—and under extreme pressure.

May we consider biblical examples that characterize different types of individuals? We see in the Bible that there are individuals that God used or anointed to carry out His purposes but yet did not acknowledge Him (Cyrus – Isaiah 45:1-6). Isn’t it interesting we are electing the 45th President of the United States? We must be fair and see that God uses individuals for His purposes that are not saved or recognize Him. What about King Artaxerxes when he allowed Nehemiah to build the wall? Read Nehemiah 1 and 2 and see how God used a king who did not recognize Him. God frequently used Old Testament kings who did not tear down all the evil altars but still blessed them.

When I assess Donald Trump I realize that he did not deny Christ like Peter did three times. He did not have Christians persecuted or killed like the Apostle Paul when he was Saul. Quite the contrary, Donald Trump said he would protect Christian liberties and eliminate the 501(c)3 tax status so pastors can speak their mind about any political issue. I see how God could use David who committed adultery and had Bathsheba’s husband literally killed. Donald Trump said he has acknowledged Christ as Savior. We have the right to question that but still cannot judge his heart. At least we have something to work with and pray that God would surround him with godly counsel. He has appointed a Christian advisory team around him. I believe Ben Carson and Mike Pence will be a great influence upon him.

Stop the accusations and look for the good in Donald Trump!

The Christian attitude should be to pray, exhort, encourage, and look for the good in Donald Trump. If he has accepted Christ as some Christian leaders have indicated, is he in a growth process? All new Christians go through it. We see the terminology in the Bible: a babe in Christ, young, and then mature in Christ. We have no idea the pressures that he feels in this volatile election process. It is easy for armchair critics to complain, murmur, and grumble. The Bible clearly warns us against this type of attitude. Look for the good and speak life and blessings into this individual as well as his family. That is always the safest and higher ground to take.

Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV)

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

1 Peter 4:9 (NKJV)

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

James 4:1-3 (NKJV)

Pride Promotes Strife

4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet[a] you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

What about Donald Trump’s past?

What about it? My first question would be what about your past? What about my own past? As we look at our friends, family, acquaintances, who need to have a true relationship in the Lord Jesus Christ—do you throw up their past into their face? That is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction! Today is a new day. If we pray as a church united and not divided, we could very easily see that Donald Trump’s past is the past—and he has a turning of the heart slow as it may seem.

May we as a praying church bear his burdens and pray for his family as well. How many of us know Christians who after initially accepting Jesus Christ reverted back into some old destructive ways? Should we not be a people who would pray, encourage, uplift, and exhort those people so they could be restored? Treat Donald Trump as if he was one of your own children or a good friend.

Our nation hangs in the balance and God has given the church the opportunity and responsibility to shift a nation. May we work together as one?

Who is responsible for transforming a culture?

It is the job of the church to transform a culture towards a biblical worldview. The grassroots church must rise up and contend for the faith in issues of morality. So many times we think the other person will do it. No President that would be elected can transform a culture. A President may help in the process, but it is people such as you and I who must engage our sphere of influence so America can exemplify Proverbs 14:34 where it says only the righteousness can exalt the nation. The blame must be placed on the church for the condition of our culture and nation—not any one elected official!

Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Note: The opinions in this article are that of the author’s.