Monday, May 22, 2017

When Church Makes You Sick - Literally

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15, ESV)

I struggle with complicated migraine. These headaches hit at weird times, can be unpredictable, and when just the wrong combination of light, sound, and smell hit me; it triggers a migraine. I have lived with these most of my life. I know how to work through the issues when I am in public, but it is awkward. It is an invisible complication which is probably much like sensory disorders, except they don't get a migraine, but it messes with your brain nevertheless.

How do you survive in this type of struggle? Especially if the location you find yourself in is making you sick?

For us, we just adjust. Sensory sensitivities can be unpredictable. Some people will not understand but we can educate them. However, the sufferer has to have a plan to cope. On each trip we make, I am processing a potential plan. I have two kids with sensory disorders so the plan is good for their sake as well.

This particular day at church I knew I was neurologically sensitive, then the band started to play and I knew I could not stay in the room. Thankfully, there is an open room with a television where you can sit and watch the service on location. This is where we find ourselves retreating when something in the bigger gathering is starting to trigger brain issues with any of us.

In this struggle, it can be embarrassing but we must trust God and His provision of a safe spot to avoid the stimulus that will bring along further complications. For me, if I remain in the situation that is triggering a migraine, it can put me out of commission for a long time.  The fact that I can move to prevent that I am thankful for. Even if no one else understands. My Savior does because of His intimate crafting of me. He made each of us fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139) and will provide the things we need at the proper time (Philippians 4:19).

When the church building is making me sick, I can run to my Savior who is Peace (John 14:27). His perfect peace is what can help calm my overactive brain down (Psalm 23). He can do this with our children as well. We must look to Him and run to Him and trust His perfect plan, though stimulus overload is not fun. I am certain I will never understand the reasons why we deal with this here and now except that it helps us to rely and depend on Jesus.

It also helps us focus on the fact that this home is not our permanent home. This body, is not my renewed body yet. It helps us keep eternity in mind. I hope when a place like church makes you sick, you will be encouraged to have a plan as well and run to Jesus.

Lord, help me to see eternity and trust your promises as I struggle. Help me to keep my eyes stuck on the bigger picture. Thank you for crafting the unique challenges in my life to make me more like you. Thank you for sensory friendly places and friends who understand. In Jesus Name. Amen. 

~ Angela Parsley


  1. So true. We are citizens of heaven. We are only passing through. This is a very comforting thought.
    Thanks for this beautiful sharing.

  2. Thanks for being so open and honest, Angela! I suffer from anxiety, which a lot of people don't understand because it's "invisible". I've learned how to manage it with diet, exercise, and changing my environment, but it still flares up out of nowhere. I loved what you said about Jesus understanding even if no one else does because He intimately crafted me! I've wondered at times why I have this affliction, but it is so comforting to know this is not my renewed body or home. :)

    1. That is so true Marisa. Praise God for His comfort & help.

  3. This isn't something that I have ever though of. I'm so glad that your church provides an area where you can still worship and participate in the service while avoiding those triggers. I will try to be more aware of this in the future and seek how I can help others who may be dealing with sensory overload.