Relationships with our chronically ill partners, friends or family members can be difficult. It’s important that we admit this, and carry on. But what does ‘carry on’ look like?
A PRESENT FOR YOU ALL
I’ve been wanting to give something to followers of this blog for a while, and I’ve been struggling with what is appropriate.
We all know that “Get Well Soon” cards are difficult to buy when the person you love has a chronic illness – so I’ve made some alternatives.
When you add your email address here, I will send them to you! May they help you love others 🙂
Chronic illness relationships are hard – so what do we do?
We accept brokenness in the context of our relationship
Sometimes remembering that both you and your chronically ill friend are only human can go a long way.
We can’t avoid frustrations and fractured relationships in this world. One day our hearts will be healed once and for all, but that time is not yet. It is not wrong to long for better relationships, or feel that something is missing, but we cannot expect or demand perfection in this life.
Sometimes we need to learn to be (temporarily) satisfied with less. The only way we can really do this is if our strongest hope is in our relationship with Jesus rather than our relationship with our chronically ill friend.
We remember that the real relationship problem is not chronic illness
We need to acknowledge that we get annoyed with people who aren’t sick too. Do we feel just as guilty over this?
In looking at our relationship with our chronically ill family member, we must not forget about our other relationships. The problem, after all, is not that we are angry at someone ‘more vulnerable’ than us, it is that we are refusing to love someone God created.
The world tells us that it is infinitely worse to malign the sick than the healthy, more horrible to knock over the little old lady than the twenty-year-old man.
The Bible has higher standards.
How high are your standards?
Chronic illness in relationships present a unique opportunity
At every cross-roads in life we have to make the decision to reflect God or reflect ourselves. When I gaze at what is in my heart I know which one I want – and this situation is no different.
Chronic illness is not an excuse for our partner to behave horribly (this is important) but it is always an excuse for us to extend patience.
Relationships are always opportunities to love like Jesus. So let’s make the most of them!
Chronic illness in a relationship is not an excuse for hate – tweet!
Let’s be practical about relationships with chronically ill loved ones
There can be a temptation to treat our frustration at our chronically ill friend as ‘spiritual’ problem. I don’t think such a thing exists.
We are flesh-and-blood people. All our dilemmas have both a spiritual and a physical dimension. And so, let’s not be ashamed of ourselves if the reason we are angry is simply that we are tired.
Perhaps there is no deep underlying resentment, or ongoing issues. Maybe we just need to take a break. We’re overtired. We’re stressed.
Sometimes ‘taking a break’ is a luxury we do not have (or do not allow ourselves to have!). Even then, simply admitting that our anger is the result of physical problems can go a long way in helping us to love.
It is God who ultimately affects chronically ill relationships
All these can sometimes act as solutions, but in the end there is one thing that is always the solution.
We need to pray and ask God for help. If we profess to be Christians we need to be honest with ourselves. God’s way is not hatred. It’s love.
Jesus died for our hatred, for our frustrations, for our annoyance. Each act of anger requires repentance.
We are utterly sinful and cannot love properly by ourselves. In fact, according to God’s definition of love, we cannot love at all.
I very very rarely love my chronically ill family members as I ought, let alone anyone else. And so I find it an immense comfort that God’s love for my Loved One is enough. Not only so, but His love for me does not waver as I fail time and time again. That in itself is an encouragement to fight for love.
The more time we spend gazing on God’s love portrayed in the Bible, the more time we spend with Him, the more time we take to discuss and question and ponder and share His love, the more it will transform our lives. The more we will find ourselves able to love.
I have prayed so many times:
God I don’t have enough love for this person right now. If you want me to love, you’re going to have to do everything – because I cannot.
Sometimes to love another human seems like an impossible task. And it is to us, but never to God. What a relief!
//What do you find hard in your chronically ill relationship? Are you good at accepting brokenness? Where do you place your hope?
Respond in the comments or join the conversation! As a nod to Christmas and the new year, if you sign up for email notifications, I will send you 3 downloadable and printable cards suitable for someone with a chronic illness (or anyone in need of some love!). May you use them to love others.