Chronic illness is…well, chronic. For the most part, not only does it not end, but it remains the same. Of course there are changes, developments, progressions – but these are generally subtle in nature and may vary between individuals. Perhaps our Loved One is slowly but surely declining. Or maybe their sickness fluctuates without rhyme or reason. Some days they are well, others they are not. Or perhaps there is simply no visible change at all, just a long, monotonous pain.
A few weeks ago I did a talk for a Cancer Council morning tea on living when you can’t see God working and my own personal story about waiting for Him to fulfill His promises and bring something good out of chronic illness.
It’s not a neat, polished story, tied up with perfect conclusion, because real life isn’t like that. But it’s my story, and all I have to offer. Here is the transcript:
This is the 2nd part of a series on Watching a Loved One suffer from a distance. In Part 1 we looked at the fact that it is hard to help out physically when you live a long way away. This post looks at some of the other difficulties we may encounter. So without further ado…
It’s difficult to care as much about something when you’re not confronted with it every day.
This is why we are often more distressed about our 3 year old’s tantrum than a war in a 3rd world country. What we see and experience affects us. It seems more real, not only because we are a firsthand witness but because it actually disrupts our life. Thus, it is more difficult to Watch when we do not see our Loved One regularly. It is genuinely hard to place as much importance on their struggles. Not because our love is less, but because it makes up less of our day.
Perhaps we have always lived far away from our Loved One, and we want to know if we are actually a Watcher. Perhaps we used to co-reside with them, and due to circumstances or choice we have recently moved a distance away and are struggling. Or maybe we’d actually prefer to live elsewhere and wonder what that will look like in terms of Watching. Possibly the opportunity has arisen for us to move closer and we’re not sure whether this will be a wise move.
These questions are difficult and important.
How do we Watch when we live far away from our Loved One? Is it possible?
This is Part 1 of a two-part series focused on “Watching from a distance”.
If we are idealistic we hate pessimism (and vice versa)
It happens. We are feeling over the moon with joy – bubbly about life, hopeful about the future. Yet the person next to us is cynical. They sigh and shake their head and otherwise communicate that we are mad.
It irritates us. We want to shake them. Can’t they see the sun is shining? Can’t they see that however painful life is at the moment, it is life and it’s beautiful?
Or perhaps we are the one feeling down. All we can see are the troubles and trials that are crouching on the horizon, ready to billow into our lives. Our Loved One’s suffering is just too much, and there is no relief on hand. To our disbelief and possibly anger, the person beside us can’t seem to control their giggles. They (inadvertently) tease our sadness and spout enumerable things to be ‘thankful for’.
But it doesn’t help and internally we shake our fists. Can’t they go away and be happy elsewhere?
When someone’s emotional state is at odds with our own, we judge them. We grumble at their ‘shallowness’ or their ‘pessimism’.
Last weeks post was about the dangers of Watching… and yet, Watching also has many saving graces. For you see,
Watching is like an electric fence.
We know Watching – like every situation – has its own peculiar dangers. As Watchers we may be more inclined towards bitterness, pride or self-entitlement. Like a fence, Watching keeps these temptations in close proximity.
And yet just as Watching keeps these trials in, it also keeps other trials out. Beyond our fence are temptations which we cannot as easily fall into. Of course there are holes in our fence, and we can climb it, but just like every circumstance in life, Watching narrows our experience. We are never tempted by every evil at once.
The difference with Watching of course is that often the temptations we face are ones which may not plague a non-Watcher. Similarly, the dangers we find less desirable are ones which others easily fall into.