Why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth (even if it hurts)

‘I fight every day with my chronically ill friend.’ – is that ever okay to admit?

why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth even when it hurts www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Have you ever been hurt by someone? I have.

When it happens there are two things I want to do. I want to tell them they were in the wrong… and I want to tell someone else what occurred.

But what happens when it’s my chronically ill family member or friend who has hurt me?

Am I allowed to rebuke them?

And is it right to tell other people?

Q1. Are we allowed to yell at someone who is sick?

Anger brings a delicious freedom. It allows us to feel that we are “within our rights” (whatever that means!) to say exactly what we think. It seems to give us license to bring up past issues, to tell someone exactly what we think about them, what they ought to do (or not do), and precisely how much they have inconvenienced us.

My friends, if that is the sort of rebuking we want to do to our chronically ill family member, then the answer is no.

No, we should not rebuke them – because we shouldn’t rebuke anyone like that! It’s not loving.

On the other hand, if by rebuking we mean simply telling them that we are hurt because of them – then the answer is ‘perhaps’.

A. Perhaps we are allowed to rebuke our chronically ill family member, if…

We don’t want to. Rebuking someone when we feel like rebuking them often means that the entire conversation turns into a yelling match. We’re heated. We’re angry. Perhaps you should tell your loved one they acted wrongly – but wait a day. Or a year. However long it takes for the anger to fade.

We would rebuke another friend for the same thing. There’s something about sickness that seems to project it into the public square. We all feel the need to comment and criticize. In one sense it’s easier to critique a sick friend than a healthy one because our relationship is different. It is imbalanced: sickness vs. health. Certain freedoms vs. certain limitations.

We need to make sure we are fair.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t tell our Loved One that they hurt us. I’m not saying we should call evil good. I’m simply wondering if perhaps we need to gain perspective first.

Let’s not call evil good – but let’s make sure we have perspective first! – tweet!

Q2. Can we tell other people about it?

This is a difficult one. And it’s one that makes our lives as Watchers lonely at times. When your entire church is praying for your sick father, it can be difficult to explain to a church friend that you argue with him every time you visit.

How can we possibly admit that our Loved One says awful things to us? Or explain that our Loved One is grumpy more often than not?

My friends, we have to. If we would normally share these relationships struggles, we must not let sickness deter us. We have to share because we need prayer. We can’t deal with this alone.

A. We need to share because we need to live truthfully.

We have to share because perhaps others are feeling this way and if we pretend everything is okay we are making their hurt worse.

We need to be sensitive and loving in the way we share. But we also need to be willing to become vulnerable. What is stopping us being honest? Habit? A desire to protect our pride? A sense of duty?

Sharing sensitively and kindly is not a disservice to our Loved One. Rather it’s a way of helping people truly love them as someone with strengths and weakness rather than merely a ‘sick person’.

How can we possibly live this?

It’s all very well to talk in abstract about what we should and ought and want to do – but how on earth do we live this out in the messiness of everyday life?

How can we possibly love in this way?

Firstly, we (by ourselves) can’t.

Secondly, (with Jesus) we can.

That’s not to say that a quick prayer will transform our relationship. It’s a long and difficult process. But in God we have the ultimate picture of One who loved those who hated Him. Who died for those who despised Him.

Let’s cling to His example and take comfort from it. Let’s follow in His footsteps, knowing that He goes ahead. Let’s talk to Him about it, knowing He understands.

In all humility, how can we refuse to love someone who is as flawed as we are, when God who was not flawed at all, loved us?

//Have you ever struggled with these questions, or am I the only one? If so, did you reach the same answers as me? Why or why not?

Comment below or start a conversation here!


Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

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