When I was little I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor. Not because I had an undying desire to see sick people healed, but because there was one ill person I wanted to cure. I longed to take away my mum’s pain with a single flick of a pen on a prescription pad.
While my career aspirations soon headed off down a different track, I think this desire is something we can all sympathise with. To some extent it never does away.
As care-givers and support-bearers and Watchers we would love to see our Loved Ones healed. Yet it can become dangerous when this simple desire begins to morph into something subtly different: a belief that it is our responsibility to cure them.
When this happens we swap our role as a Watcher for that of a “doctor”.
Watchers we are not… doctors
Do you ever feel the need to cure your chronically ill loved one?
Have you accidently become a “doctor”? Do you ever:
- Feel your goal in the relationship is to bring healing?
- Spend time collecting remedies (via Google, word of mouth etc) and offering them to your Loved One?
- Feel better when you can diagnose the cause of your Loved One’s distress that day. Does being able to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and use the appropriate words to describe and understand it, reassure you?
- Feel like a failure when you are unable to reduce your Loved One’s suffering, or bring them relief?
“Watchers, we are not doctors. We have a higher calling.” Tweet @calledtowatch
The danger in wanting to cure your chronically ill friend
Is this desire to cure our chronically ill friends really so out of place? Perhaps. After all:
- We are believing a lie. We are not doctors, and so cannot be expected to bring healing in the same way they can.
- We’re putting responsibility on ourselves which should not be ours to bear – and that can lead to stress and anxiety
- It can hurt our Loved Ones, because in our overwhelming need to diagnose and cure, we may cease to listen or respect them. Instead they may simply become a project, a problem or an obstacle.
Where does this desire to cure their chronic illness come from?
How do you slip from the seemingly innocent territory of Watching and caring for your Loved One, to wanting to cure them single-handedly?
- I think we want to do something – we are afraid of being helpless
- We are used to problems we can solve, and do not understand how to love without finding solutions
- We have experienced some small success in relieving their symptoms and it has tricked us into thinking that this is our most important role
- We love them and want to see them healed
This is all a bit confusing. We want to heal, but we can’t, and this is painful. And so where do we turn?
What to believe when you want to heal your chronically ill friend:
- God is the only true Healer
- Healing is not an evil goal, but it cannot be the ultimate one because earthly healing is only temporary
- Remember, there is a price for healing that is too high. What would you give to see your Loved One healed?
- You are not your Loved One’s physician and sometimes that means it is not actually your place to enforce regimes or lecture them on their health
- At times what your Loved One needs most is a hug, not a doctor’s appointment or medical trial.
All this however, still leaves us feeling rather useless.
What to do when you can’t cure your chronically ill loved one:
- Trust God to heal – whether that’s miraculously or through man
- Repent of your desire for control
- Examine your motives for seeking physical healing…
- Turn the future of your Loved One over to God. This is easier said than done, and maybe something we need to do daily
- Practice listening and empathising before jumping to solutions
You are not a doctor, you have a higher calling.
Ah my friends, so often our longing to see our Loved Ones healed of their chronic illness can led us into dangerous waters. I have been tempted to take on responsibilities that are not mine, and in the process give up the role that God has blessed me with.
I work in the medical field at the moment, although I am not a doctor. And the invitation is always there: find a cure, investigate this or that method. There is a time and a place for this. But I need to remember my highest calling is always that of a Watcher, not a doctor.
God has called me to be Watcher not a doctor for my Mum. In the same way God has called you to be a friend, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child to your Loved One – not merely their medical professional.
Let us not forsake our calling.
//Have you ever been tempted to believe that “doctoring” is more important than “Watching”? Have you ever slid into that role?
Of course, you can be a Watcher and a Doctor. Or just a doctor. I have nothing against Doctors. But I am not one, and neither (I suspect) are most of you – so let’s not take on that burden.
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