What if they don’t understand? (Watchers we are not delegates!)

Is it always possible to represent someone else accurately?

watchers we are not delegates www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

How often have you stood ‘in the place’ of your ill Loved One?

Maybe you’ve attended an event,

answered a question,

or formed a relationship,

which they simply could not.

Delegates are people who represent someone else to a community. They go forth in their place and explain the other person’s views, character and position. Sometimes it’s easier to see ourselves, not as Watchers of our Loved One, but as their delegate to the outside world.

Watchers we are not… delegates

What does ‘acting as a delegate’ look like?

  • We feel the need to explain at every gathering why our Loved One isn’t there, and assure everyone they would be if they could
  • We feel a burden of responsibility when we answer questions concerning our Loved One – are we representing them correctly? What if our inquirer gets the wrong impression?
  • We are always conscious of what image our words and actions send when we are in ‘public’. Will people think more or less of our Loved One if we act this way, or that? Are we appearing too happy or too negative?

Why is it wrong?

  • We’re carrying a burden we don’t need to carry – it is not our fault if other people choose to view our Loved One in a less than positive light
  • We are placing more importance on appearance and even understanding than perhaps they observe
  • We are failing to trust God and others to react the right way, and are instead feeling like we need to police their responses

How does this happen?

  • We care too deeply for our Loved One’s appearance and reputation
  • We don’t trust deeply enough in God’s sovereignty
  • We are afraid to trust others
  • We give our words greater importance than they deserve

Some truths:

  • Chances are other people aren’t actually depending on our explanations for their view of our Loved One
  • There many variables which are entirely out of our control when it comes to our Loved One’s reputation, from the time of day to whether the person forming the opinion slept well last night
  • A good reputation is nice, but it’s not the most important thing
  • Ultimately truth matters – and God knows the truth. If someone forms the idea that our Loved One is lazy, for instance, it doesn’t actually make us lazy

What can we do?

  • We can repent of our pride in our position, and our idolisation of other people’s opinions
  • We can share our difficulties with the people we speak with and to. ‘I always find explaining this difficult, but my Loved One is simply too tired to come today, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t care’
  • We can resist the urge to embellish or edit our accounts in order to put our Loved One (or ourselves!) in the best positive light
  • We can practice placing our Loved One in God’s hands, and know that even if they are misjudged by others, God is the True Judge and will one day bring all things to light
  • We can praise God that in the end our Loved One’s reputation is not up to us!

Watchers, we love our sick friends and want other people to love them too. And yet, truth is truth and God is God, and so it is liberating to remember that we are Watchers, not delegates!

// It’s not always wrong to want to be a delegate… have there been times in your life when it’s been the right thing to do?

PS: Because I regularly update old posts, you can miss some posts if you are only a ‘WordPress Follower’. Sign up for email notifications instead.  

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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