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Meniere's Ministry - A reverend offers spiritual and coping support

  • Meniere's Ministry
    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 (In a later post)
    Email Forrest at [email protected]
    Visit Forrest's home page at FSClark Services - Welcome!


    Hi! I’m Forrest Clark and I have Meniere’s Disease (left side only with loss of hearing, tinnitus, fullness and only rare vertigo attacks). If you’ve found your way here, you probably know about Meniere’s Disease (I’ll call it MM for short from now on). If you don’t know about MM, click on http://www.menieres.org and you’ll get the full story!

    I was diagnosed with MM in the spring of 1996, although I’ve 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 didn’t even know what caused it! The relief was in finally knowing what was happening to me, that I wasn’t going crazy, that I didn’t 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.

    I’m also a member of the clergy (Elder, Wisconsin Conference, The United Methodist Church). In the course of my ministry, I’ve been a pastor, an educator, and a denominational staff member. This page is an introduction to a specialized ministry that I am developing, the Meniere’s Ministry.

    This Meniere’s 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 don’t intend to try to "convert" anyone and I will not argue with anyone about faith experience or their meaning. The Meniere’s 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, I’m here for you.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m on a journey through life like all of us and there is a lot that I don’t know and haven’t experienced. But I can share what I’ve experienced, how I’ve coped (and where I’ve failed to cope), and what I’ve discovered about the relation of faith to health and wholeness.

    Contact me via email at [email protected]. If I can help, get in touch.


    Why Me? Why NOT Me?
    "God, I’m pretty upset about this Meniere’s 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 doesn’t work that way just because I want it to. Even preachers get Meniere’s 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 haven’t 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 shouldn’t have to face the failure of a part of your body?

    Well, of course not, God. You know I’m not any better than anyone else is.

    (You got that right, Forrest.)

    Uh, yeah. But, God, I didn’t 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 isn’t based on you being good enough to "deserve" rewarding or being punished if you aren’t good enough. I said that I would be your God and you would be one of my people. That means I’m here, whether your head is full of good thoughts or hung over the edge of the toilet. I’m 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 you’re the only one affected by this? She needed me too; she was scared!

    So what am I supposed to DO?

    You’re not supposed to DO; you’re 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? I’m with you and I’ll help you get through it all.

    My conversation with God didn’t 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].

    Why me? Why NOT me? It can happen to anybody. And it doesn’t 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. I’ll try to talk about that one of these days, too -- at least from the point of view of theology. But I’ll hold that for another time.)

    Grace and peace to you, my friends!


    (Click the discussion tab above for more entries and to discuss/query with Forrest)
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