Having just been through this holiday season, I am so struck by the importance of ChosenFamilies.org. The reality is that many families are touched by hidden disabilities. The sad thing is that most live in utter silence about their challenges, often even within their own family structure. As I reflected on this reality in recent days, I was reminded of something I continue to ponder.
What are the things we are silent or secretive about? We tend to be silent and secretive about things for which we feel ashamed – areas of struggle or sin that leave us feeling defeated.
When I went through cancer treatment several years ago I had this lingering negative feeling I could not put my finger on. I tried a variety of ways to shake it to no avail. Finally, one morning in my quiet time I just asked the Lord about this lingering feeling hanging over me. “Lord, what IS this?” He spoke promptly: “Shame.”
As soon as He said it I realized that I had no reason to feel ashamed. I was sick. I was in treatment. My baldness was nothing for which to feel ashamed. It was simply an outward evidence of the fact that I was sick and fighting this dreaded disease. Upon this realization, the negative feeling lifted. I knew it was founded in a lie – I had no reason for shame. The power of the negative feeling over me was defeated by the reality of the truth.
Many families touched by hidden disability live in silence, feeling it is not safe or wise to share their burden. While it is important to use discretion and good judgment in sharing hidden disabilities, when we move into complete silence about them, we are at risk. As a result, we often live with that same unspoken heaviness. It is indirect but often based in the subtle lie that we have something for which to feel ashamed. And we do not. We are dealing with disability and illness. These are not grounds for shame. They are cause for brokenness and dependence on the Father – which is exactly where He wants all of us to live anyway.
As we move into 2011, ChosenFamilies.org is committed to speak into the silence that hovers over so many families. We are committed to be a light to shine into that dark place and speak words of hope and encouragement.