As the shops get busier and my drive home after a late night shift becomes increasingly well-lit thanks to the current Christmas light epidemic, I’ve decided to introduce a new blog ‘series’.
Love in a Time of Chronic Illness (LTCI)
Many of my posts are either ‘answers’ or ‘explanations’ relating to the difficulties and loneliness-es of loving someone with a chronic illness.
I’ve never proposed to have the ‘only-exclusively-right’ answers to every situation of course. (Unless the Answer is Jesus, in which case I do!) But I write what I’ve learnt and I describe what’s encouraged me.
But for a while now I’ve been nursing a fear that perhaps these posts are portraying me unrealistically. Eight hundred polished words are not the same as a polished life.
A not so polished life
Does anyone have a polished life?
I certainly don’t. For every time I write about how to love someone who is suffering, I fail to do so at least that many times, if not more.
And so I’d like to perhaps share some of my struggles. Why? Because brokenness is helpful.
Brokenness lets you see that I need Jesus desperately.
Brokenness lets you know that you are not alone in your mistakes and suffering.
Brokenness is truth.
There won’t be too much brokenness
Of course there’s a fine line between What to Share Online, and What Not To. If you ever feel I overstep it, let me know!
There’s also such thing as Privacy, which I think is pretty important, both for me and my loved ones. Anything I share won’t be an exact mirror to my life. Names and other identifiers will be different. Also, this blog will not be a chronological mirror: snippets of my life will always be written in the ‘present’ although they may have occurred years ago.
Let me clarify further – this is not going to be a depressing series about all my many failures – I’ll spare you that! I’ll simply share something I’ve personally learned, about myself or my world, in relation to love and chronic illness. It is a space to share those ‘tiny’ things that make up a life, but are too small to stretch into a normal sized blog post!
Love in a time of chronic illness?
I purposely placed ‘a time’, rather than ‘the time’ in the title of this series, because that’s all chronic illness is. A time. For some of us, an unimaginably lengthy time – but still, only a time.
When my King returns, this time will pass away, and I wanted a reminder of that.
In the same way, this time is the only time we (as Watchers) will get to love.
Shall we start right away?
Let me tell you about a time I took someone who was struggling with a chronic illness out for a meal. I was excited. Not only did we rarely get a chance to hang out together, but I knew that they did not often get the opportunity to eat out.
I also felt vaguely magnanimous. I would make them happy. I would show them a bit of the world. I would love them and have a great time myself.
It is not often that loving someone is so fun!
Yet as the meal progressed it became difficult for my Loved One to know exactly the ingredients and quantities of the food we were eating. This was important because her health relies on that! As she became increasingly worried, I became increasingly annoyed.
We knew we would be taking a risk in eating out, so why can’t she just stop worrying and enjoy the meal?
There’s nothing I can do about it – so why does she keep bringing it up!?
She’s spoiling my gift to her. This was supposed to be a nice night, and now I feel frustrated.
I tried to understand and I tried not to get angry. Yet as we sat opposite each other in the restaurant, I couldn’t help but feel more and more edgy. Then it struck me.
Why was I so irritated?
Not out of sympathy, because her illness was making her own life so hard, but rather because I felt that in worrying she was failing to appreciate the gift I was giving her.
Talk about selfishness.
The realisation humbled me. My motives were not pure, and most of the hurt I felt was actually the result of my desires for a ‘nice night’ for myself. That’s not to say I was only seeking my own happiness, but I certainly had placed it above hers!
The funniest thing happened afterwards though! I overheard her telling someone else about the lovely dinner we’d had, and how much she’d enjoyed it.
She had? Yay!
And so God used my gift to bring happiness after all.
Both to her, and consequently to me.
What an undeserved blessing 🙂 (and much needed lesson!)
// How about you? Have you ever given gifts that are more about yourself than the other person? When did you realise?
Christmas is coming up, and I want to thank you for following my blog. When you sign up you’ll receive 3 downloadable and printable cards suitable for someone with a chronic illness – and anyone in need of some love!