Why you need to seek something more than peace

What’s your goal in troubled times? As much as we’re often told that it’s okay to simply survive, most of us, if we’re completely honest, want more than that. 

We want to turn something bad into something good. Something worthwhile. Maybe even something precious. There’s a reason so many cancer tragedies end in the formation of an organisation or charity. There’s a reason we prefer tales of people who have overcome illness, rather than the much more common stories of being overcome.

Christians talk a lot about peace. So much so that it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong it you’re not an unflappable yogi during trials. 

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Why you’re moving forward this New Year (even when it doesn’t feel like it)

It’s the end of the year… again. Each year seems to go by quicker than the last, doesn’t it? We joke about it, but sometimes it can be disheartening.

We can feel like nothing has really changed and we’re caught in an endless loop. Over and over again – Christmas, New Year, Easter, a birthday: one year older, work, holiday, another year gone by –

Life can seem like on unending circuit, particularly if you (or your loved one) have a chronic illness. This is because:

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Expectations and why they’re good: Christmas

Did you know that it’s impossible not to have expectations?

Try it.

However vague, we always have some sense of what an event or a holiday or a job or a coffee-date will be like. Often, when we say we had “no expectations” what we really mean is we had “low expectations”.

Christmas and the holiday season bring a lot of expectations.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Christmas”? Food, fun, community, isolation, stress – whatever connotations you have, they will form part of your expectation for the season.

Christmas and the good thing about expectations

Chronic illness can make expectations necessary.

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How to admit you are no longer praying for healing

“Do you still pray for healing for your mum?”

The question startled me. It startled me so much that an answer burst from my mouth before I had time to think.

“No.”

My response startled me even more.

“Not as much as I used to,” I continued. As if an explanation would make that two-letter word more palatable. “Sometimes. But I mostly pray for her symptoms now.” A pause. “Do you think that’s wrong?”

“No,” my friend answered. “I think that’s okay.”

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My husband has chronic inflammatory disease (Katie’s story)

“There are people willing to be with you during the dark times.” May this interview be an encouragement that there are others out there too, struggling to love and seeking to give, all the while figuring out what it looks like to do exactly that.

It’s time… for the first interview with another watcher!

The blog series Another Watcher’s Story is a compilation of interviews with other people just like us who are in a relationship with someone suffering from a chronic illness: mental or physical. They may or may not be in an ‘official’ caregiving role, but they have a unique tale to tell.

The purpose of this blog is to remind us that we are not alone.

So without further ado, let me introduce Katie, a wife whose spouse struggles with chronic inflammatory disease (and also the founder of a wonderful ministry: Broken and Mended!)

My husband has chronic inflammatory disease

1. How does your husband’s illness impact his life? 

He is always in pain to some extent. It limits his ability to join in some family activities, but not too many. 

2. What has been the hardest part of Watching them?

The way it has taken so much of his energy and focus away from other things. He is using it for the glory of God and so I am proud of him. He is, however, focused on things many people in the 40’s do not have to even think about. 

3. How has this impacted you?

I have had to adjust my expectations. We are still working out how this affects our relationship and our family. 

katie's story inflammatory disease chronic www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #spoonie

4. What have you learnt as a result of this relationship?

To be more supportive. To realize that he has limitations and I have to respect those. 

5. How has God been present in this relationship?

Every step of the way. We both acknowledge His hand is how we found out about his disease. We believe he has lead David to start the Broken and Mended ministry. 

6. Have you seen any fruits or purpose for their suffering so far?

We see how he and I can relate to others who are suffering. 

7. What does Jesus mean to you? What aspect of his character has impacted you the most?

Jesus is my rock. I can not imagine going through any of life’s difficulties without him. I know that he understands each hurt and disappointment. I trust him with my future and know he will bring any good possible from this situation. 

8. What’s the best piece of advice or encouragement someone has given you? How have they shown they love you?

Early on we had friends who would help out with the kids in order for me to be with David for doctor appointments and surgeries. It is wonderful to have a network around you to help manage life that cannot stop when you need it to. 

9.   What piece of encouragement would you give someone in a similar situation to your own? 

There are people willing to be with you during the dark times. You do not have to pretend that you are okay with what you are facing. Lean on God for strength.

THANKS Katie!

// Are you a Watcher? If so I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t think your story isn’t exciting enough, or your loved one’s affliction not devastating enough! There are no wrong answers! Contact me at gloryafterwards@gmail.com to be part of this series (you can remain anonymous!)

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Why I feel uncomfortable when people offer to pray for healing (even though I’m a Christian)

“I’ll pray God will heal your friend.”

“I’ll pray God will heal you.”

Sometimes these promises make me feel uncomfortable. Have you ever been on the receiving end of an offer for prayer? I’ve used the word “offer” but it’s more of a statement really.

After you share the health struggles of yourself or someone close to you with a Christian friend, there’s often silence. And then –

“I’ll pray for healing.”

How does this make you feel? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but often it leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Here’s why:

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Why you shouldn’t be like Jesus (Watchers, we are not Saviours)

Do you ever get discouraged because you can’t seem to do anything right? You can’t cheer up your Loved One, you can’t heal them, you can’t even be a ‘good’ Watcher?

You read blog posts and Bible passages about loving selflessly and encouraging others and being joyful – and you try, you really do, but you never quite succeed.

Everyone around you seems to be able to hold their life together and love others as well – and you lose your temper daily, are often discouraged, and sometimes wonder why you’re even here at all.

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Why we need to celebrate small things

“Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony…
it may be that God makes every daisy separately,
but has never got tired of making them.” – G. K. Chesterton

There are 2 types of people. Those who celebrate EVERYTHING and those who wait for the really big, land-mark events before they break out the confetti.

I admit I am often one of the later. I don’t want to celebrate prematurely, I want to wait until I’m sure it’s something worthy of celebrating… and as a result, I don’t celebrate much at all!

The problem is life doesn’t always bundle achievements or seasons into boxes. There is often no neat, conclusive ‘end’.

This is especially true with Chronic illness. When you can’t celebrate healing or an ending, it can be difficult to celebrate at all.

And yet I think we are called to celebrate, even when there’s no miracle or no big event. Why? Well I could talk about being positive and practicing self-care and embracing your life and all the rather ‘in’ phrases at the moment…. but I want to give you more concrete reasons.

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Abracadabra! (Watchers, we are not Fairy Godmothers!)

Contrary to popular belief, fairy godmothers are not trademarked by Disney. They do not always run around singing ‘bippity-boppity-boo!’ In fact, they may be closer than we expect…

A ‘fairy godmother’ is a type of character which charges into a dismal situation, waves their magic wand and fixes everything before disappearing in a cloud of fairy dust.

They exist outside of Cinderella – and in fact, are often viewed negatively by film critics. A ‘fairy godmother’, like a ‘deus ex machina’ can be a lazy way of resolving the characters’ problems and ensuring a happy ending by the two hour mark.

That said, how many of us would love a ‘fairy godmother’ in our own lives? A magic solution to all our stresses? Yes please!

Often as Watchers, we are tempted to try and fulfill the role of a ‘fairy godmother’ in our Loved One’s life.

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Why small talk is so important in chronic illness (& why I neglect it!)

A while ago I read a fascinating article about phatic communication, or ‘small talk’. Phatic communication is speech which serves a purpose other than that implied by the words used. An example would be the question, “how are you?”

What this question is actually asking is, “how are you physically/mentally?” Yet how many of us actually answer this? And why don’t we?

It’s not because we’re being rude or ignoring the question. In fact, often askers are surprised when someone lists their current physical health in response! It’s because we understand that in our social context the question is often merely a greeting, a social nicety which has to be used before the ‘proper’ conversation can begin.

An example of phatic communication (small talk!)

Often when I run I call out a (breathless) ‘hi!’ or ‘good evening/morning!’ as I pass someone by. About 3 times out of ten, someone will reply. Out of that 30%, at least half reply with ‘good thanks’ or ‘I’m well thanks’ – despite the fact that I never asked if they were!

This is because they are so used to ‘how are you’ being part of ‘hello’ and other social niceties (or nonenties!) that they assume I’ve asked and thus reply automatically.

Continue reading “Why small talk is so important in chronic illness (& why I neglect it!)”