Spiritual support for those with Meniere's Disease
and those who love them with our Chaplain, Rev. Forrest S. Clark .
Why me? Why NOT Me?
It's a Matter of Attitude
Guest Essay: A Blessing
Email Forrest at [email protected].
Visit Forrest's home page at http://www.inxpress.net/~fsclark/.
Hi! Iím Forrest Clark and I have Meniereís Disease (left side only with loss of hearing, tinnitus, fullness and only rare vertigo attacks). If youíve found your way here, you probably know about Meniereís Disease (Iíll call it MM for short from now on). If you donít know about MM, click on http://www.menieres.org and youíll get the full story!
I was diagnosed with MM in the spring of 1996, although Iíve probably had it developing since the late 1980s. It was both a shock and a relief. The shock was getting the word that I had a disease that the doctor could not cure and that he didnít even know what caused it! The relief was in finally knowing what was happening to me, that I wasnít going crazy, that I didnít have a brain tumor, and that I could do something to help myself. It was also terribly depressing as I realized that I was going to live with this unwelcome companion for the rest of my life.
Iím also a member of the clergy (Elder, Wisconsin Conference, The United Methodist Church). In the course of my ministry, Iíve been a pastor, an educator, and a denominational staff member. This page is an introduction to a specialized ministry that I am developing, the Meniereís Ministry.
This Meniereís Ministry is aimed specifically at my sisters and brothers who have MM. I understand the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of living with an incurable disease because I share that disease with you. I know the impact it has on family, spouse and children, as they try to cope with someone they love contending with loss of capabilities. And I know the vital and continuing role that religious faith has played in my own experience of MM and in trying to cope with it. I hope that sharing my faith, experiences, emotions, and spiritual observations can help others find their way through MM to enjoy the fullness of life that I believe we are intended to have.
This is not a doctrinal or ideological forum. I donít intend to try to "convert" anyone and I will not argue with anyone about faith experience or their meaning. The Meniereís Ministry page is my attempt to connect spiritual wholeness and health with people who are in the throes of a disease that causes much dis-ease and distress. In a sense, I am attempting to be a Chaplain to those who have MM. If the services of a Chaplain can help, Iím here for you.
I donít pretend to have all the answers. Iím on a journey through life like all of us and there is a lot that I donít know and havenít experienced. But I can share what Iíve experienced, how Iíve coped (and where Iíve failed to cope), and what Iíve discovered about the relation of faith to health and wholeness.
Contact me via email at [email protected] or contact me through ICQ at #2628916. Sometimes youíll find me on the beta.ears.com chat server as CircuitRider. If I can help, get in touch.
(The Rev. Dr. Forrest S. Clark, if you want to be formal about it.)
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"God, Iím pretty upset about this Meniereís thing! Why did you let this happen to me? I need my hearing to be a minister for you. So do something!" Even as I thought that, I knew that life doesnít work that way just because I want it to. Even preachers get Meniereís Disease.
"Why me?" Somehow, I never get around to asking that question when I am doing well in life and the profession to which I am called. "Why me?" is a question I never think about when things are going well.
However, "Why me?" was one of the first questions I asked of myself after my doctor told me I was losing hearing in one of my ears and that I would have to contend with dizziness and noise the rest of my life. "Why me? I havenít done anything. God, why did you let this happen to me?"
I did get pretty angry with God. Fortunately God is big enough to handle it. God lets us express our anger and still stands by for comfort and for strength.
Why me, God?
Why not you? Are you any better than anyone else that you shouldnít have to face the failure of a part of your body?
Well, of course not, God. You know Iím not any better than anyone else is.
(You got that right, Forrest.)
Uh, yeah. But, God, I didnít do anything to deserve all this whirling and nausea and losing my hearing and . . .
You think bad things only happen to bad people, that illnesses and diseases are punishments I hand out for doing "bad" things?
No, God, I know better than that. But I just thought this was more than I deserved to have to cope with.
Forrest, are you listening to me? "Deserve" is your word, not mine. Our relationship isnít based on you being good enough to "deserve" rewarding or being punished if you arenít good enough. I said that I would be your God and you would be one of my people. That means Iím here, whether your head is full of good thoughts or hung over the edge of the toilet. Iím with you through it all. Remember the night you lay on the floor between the bedroom and the bathroom? I was with you then.
I thought that was my wife, Mary, who held me.
She did hold you, but I was there with her and with you. Do you think youíre the only one affected by this? She needed me too; she was scared!
So what am I supposed to DO?
Youíre not supposed to DO; youíre supposed to BE. Be who you are meant to be. Are you going to let noise in your head and twirling in your stomach make you someone different from who you already are? Someone different from the person whom I know you are capable of being? Iím with you and Iíll help you get through it all.
My conversation with God didnít stop there. It is still going on as I try to live with MM as a fact of every day life. And live with it I do because it is a part of who I am. You are part of that conversation, too. Want to talk about it? Try email: [email protected] or ICQ #2628916.
Why me? Why NOT me? It can happen to anybody. And it doesnít have anything at all to do with faith or lack of faith or goodness or lack of goodness. MM just happens.
(Why it happens to anybody at all is a completely different question. Iíll try to talk about that one of these days, too -- at least from the point of view of theology. But Iíll hold that for another time.)
Grace and peace to you, my friends!
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