Do I have faith? It’s quite a big question isn’t it? It’s definitely a personal question in my opinion.
The simple answer is no I don’t, many much smarter people have pondered the same question and they don’t seem to have come up with a definitive answer and to be honest if that was all I had to worry about I’d be delighted! While I don’t believe there is someone in the sky judging us for everything we do, I believe in science, I believe in people, in humanity, in our ability to achieve and overcome obstacles. I believe in right and wrong, helping one another, being kind to one another and basically I believe we all need to try and be decent people.
As you know I’m Irish and I was living in rural Ireland when I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia in the late 90s, so I am definitely familiar with the ‘God help you’ and the ‘God bless you’ and other God phrases, and you know what I can live with that. Mostly it’s habit or just awkwardness or lack of knowledge or more often than not it’s all three since there is no rulebook on how to react when someone tells you they have a lifelong degenerative disability.
I do understand that many people choose to believe and I respect that, but why do they feel that they have the right to push their faith onto me? It’s wonderful that you believe and it gives you comfort but why do you think telling me your belief is going to make my life any better?
I may have grown accustomed to the God phrases, but while I was on holidays recently I encountered several incidents that were honestly quite unnerving. People who felt the need to physically put their hands on me, a particular favourite seemed to be at airports; complete strangers walking over to me putting their hand on my shoulder and telling me that ‘God loves you and will have a special place for you in heaven’ or some equivalent platitude. Usually I am expecting it, but this was a whole new experience and I honestly was not expecting it so I didn’t have my usual ‘grand thanks’ phrase or face ready. I was genuinely freaked out and because it happened so quickly I didn’t even get the chance to say anything in response to the person.
I’m not even sure what my response would have been – probably along the lines of ‘what do you think you are doing? Get your hands off me now! Why on earth do you think it’s okay to put your hand on a stranger and say something like that?? I didn’t go over to you and tell you that I don’t like your jumper!’
I suppose my point is that I respect your choice to have faith, please respect my choice not to.
Please support Ataxia Foundation Ireland (AFI). AFI is a new charity set up by four people who have Friedreich’s Ataxia, they aim to provide services from the perspective of a person with Ataxia, someone who has lived and is living with the condition and could help someone come to terms with a recent diagnosis. So if you would like to fund services for people with ataxia please donate to AFI via their facebook page, or if you’re interested in voluntary work with people with Ataxia please visit the AFI website to speak to them about that.