It is hard to think about chronic illness.
The reality is that while chronic illness can be difficult to talk about – it can also be difficult to even think about.
This post is a follow-on from the previous post: “Why I find it hard to talk about Watching”.
Let me clarify: I don’t find thinking about chronic illness a chore or a burden. It is so much part of me and my reality that not to think about it would be a denial of the truth!
I actually really enjoy pondering this part of my life because I want to understand how it fits into God’s plan for our world and how I can love and support my struggling friends.
Perhaps ‘hard’ is the wrong word. I don’t find thinking about Watching hard, but I think it can be… dangerous.
Continue reading “Thinking about chronic illness: Why I find it hard to think about sickness and Watching”
I find it hard to talk about sickness when I’m not the one who is sick.
This might come as a surprise.
After all, I blog about Watching. I’ve written thousands of words on the topic, and spent hundreds of hours thinking about it.
But I still find it hard.
Talking about sickness is hard because words diminish
I really struggle with this.
Every time I open a word document or begin a conversation with someone about a heart issue, I get a familiar ‘tugging’ feeling. It’s sort of like regret.
Because when words express our thoughts and feelings they inevitably reduce them. I love words, but words are not everything. Words only scrape the surface of the huge beast that being is.
Continue reading “Talking about chronic illness: Why I find it hard to talk about Sickness and Watching”
“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”
It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores.
In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune.
So where do we draw the line?
Today I’m guest posting over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post.
It addresses an issue which is particularly pertinent to us as Watchers!
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It’s easy for us, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers.
We should not overlook the lives of our wider supporters and focus exclusively on our sick Loved One. So far, so obvious, but how do we put it into practice?
How do we love our wider supporters (and why do we need a post on this?)
Surely, if we all just act like civilised human beings there’s no need for a specific address on how to ‘love’ those who are not watching as we are.
On one hand that’s true, and on another it’s not. You see, Watching means that we are used to having the pain of one person impact our life. We are used to focusing inward, towards them. We know what it is like to relate to people who are suffering.
And we might, in the process, discover we have a lot less patience for those who are not.
This, my friends, is somewhat natural.
It is also a problem.
Continue reading “How to love your wider supporters”
Wider supporters will hurt us at times
I think it’s important to acknowledge that either directly or inadvertently, wider supporters can sometimes make life harder rather than easier. It’s part of being human and living in a broken world.
- Brush away your complaints or concerns. “Ah well, sickness is part of life, isn’t it? We all have burdens.”
- Ask you to take up ministry opportunities when your life is full of caring for your Loved One
- Compare your suffering to theirs, “Oh I know exactly how you feel”
- Tell you exactly how they feel – without asking how you are
- Assume they know what you need, or what you ought to do
- Treat you differently because you are a Watcher
- Treat you exactly the same, as if being a Watcher has not affected you.
- Treat you as a walking newsletter, rather than an individual in your own right
Continue reading “What to do when our wider supporters hurt us”
We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness.
We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.
But what about those who fit into neither category?
We all like to use labels.
And they are necessary, and useful. Sometimes, however, they miss the mark. They cause us to overlook questions that need to be asked, and they paint the entire situation with broad sweeps, when actually, life is a lot more intricate.
When they leave us talking about ‘them’ and ‘those people’, it’s easy to forget that some of the time, in some circumstances, those people are ‘us’.
We are all wider supporters
It doesn’t matter if we are also individuals suffering with chronic illnesses or caregivers. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met anyone with a chronic illness or we work in a hospital and it’s all we see.
Continue reading “Why do our ‘wider supporters’ matter?”
We can talk on and on about how we ought to respond to our chronically sick Loved Ones.
We can outline what the Right Thing to do is, or make lists of What Not To Do.
But in the end, if we claim Jesus as our Saviour and role model, the only thing that really matters is how He responded.
Like father, like son.
Like Saviour, like saved.
Being a Christian is copying Jesus.
But Jesus is impossible to copy!
When we think about Jesus’ response to the sick, we think immediately of his miraculous healings – and then we give up.
In case you haven’t realised … we can’t heal.
Of course we can implement medicine or relief strategies, but we can’t wave our hands and miraculously banish sickness.
Continue reading “Sickness and Jesus’ response”
‘Don’t restrain me.’
‘Labels are limiting.’
‘We shouldn’t put people in boxes.’
‘Everything is fluid.’
‘Categorizing someone stops them reaching their full potential.’
We don’t like labels.
Talk to anyone who is in tune with the 21st century about political correctness and common courtesy and phrases like the above will arise.
Yet it has been blatantly obvious from the very beginning that I have fixed a very firm label on myself and others on this blog.
Here are some of them:
Watchers – those in a close relationship with chronically suffering people
Wider Watchers – those who are not in a close relationship with chronic sufferers
Loved Ones – the chronic sufferers themselves
Labels restrain us
Why have I done this?
To be perfectly simple, I wouldn’t be able to write without them. I need to have these definitions in order to muse and blog and think about our specific situation.
First things first, let’s clear the waters and accept the inevitable truth:
Labels (inadvertently or otherwise) do place limits.
Continue reading “Should we use labels?”
“Jesus knows what you’re going through.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus as a High Priest can sympathise with all of our sufferings. That He knows what it is to be human.
I have often rebelled against that.
Was Mary sick with an incurable disease? Was Joseph? Did one of Jesus’ brothers or sisters suffer from epilepsy or depression or MS?
If not, then how can He possibly know what it’s like to be a Watcher?
How can He possibly sympathise with me?
Continue reading “Can Jesus really sympathise?”
When I sit down to pray for my sick loved one, I want to pray for healing.
And yet I know that immediate physical healing is not always in God’s plan. Are there other specific things I should be praying about then?
Or ought I simply add a disclaimer, like “may your Will be done”?
I’ve written about prayer in Why we need to make up our minds about prayer and Why we should pray for healing from chronic illness.
I’ve asked whether the Bible promises to answer prayer in Why praying for healing is tricky.
Now it’s time to answer the question: what should we pray?
To answer this, I think it’s helpful to look at how Jesus prayed.
- Jesus prayed contradictory prayers
- Jesus prayed huge prayers
- I have prayed prayers that were not answered and others that were (God healed my sister but not my mum)
- This is why I keep praying
Continue reading “Jesus prayed, I prayed, and neither of us were answered: how to pray for healing”