I have a chronic illness, and I’ve recently been challenged about what it looks like for me to serve, specifically in mission (whether domestic or overseas).
Today’s post is my thoughts in regards to a series of questions I was asked by Wendy.
Q1. Why does it seem noble to sacrifice personal comfort to serve God in a third world country, but not to sacrifice your energy (as someone who has chronic fatigue) to serve in my own country?
Firstly, I think you’re right when you say there’s a difference between giving up your health security in a general sense (moving to a 3rd world country) and specifically sacrificing it, knowing exactly what the consequences will be.
Both scenarios involve potential daily suffering, but they are different, and I think it’s very important to acknowledge that at the very beginning.
Continue reading “I have a chronic illness: Is God calling me to sacrifice my health?”
You have a family member who is sick. It’s a chronic illness, but you feel called to be a missionary overseas.
Such a calling is a blessing, but it raises a problem.
I’ve been gone a while, and in the next few months I would love to do a few blog posts on what my life looks like after my mum’s diagnosis, and what God’s teaching me. For now though:
Is it right to leave your chronically ill family member behind?
Or are you bound to your home country to serve them as long as they live?
These are hard questions. There are 4 areas we need to examine before we can make a decision:
1. Examine your ‘calling’ to be a missionary
Why do you want to go? It’s easy to be filled with a desire and hide behind the phrase ‘God is calling me’ – but are you sure He is?
Do you want to go overseas because it sounds more exciting than caring for your Loved One? Perhaps it seems like an escape or even a retreat!
Continue reading “Can I be a missionary if my family member is sick?”
Sometimes we simply want an escape from reality… but can distraction really be a good and valid response to suffering? I want to say… yes.
How I distract myself when tragedy strikes:
Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself turning more and more to ‘distraction’. That’s why you haven’t heard much from me! By that I mean, I’ve re-ignited my passion for writing essays, for reading fiction and fan-fiction, and drawing.
In the past month or two I’ve…
Continue reading “Distraction – a good response to suffering?”
“It is better to give than to receive.”
This is an oft-quoted-out-of-context verse, but raises an important question: What if you can’t give? Is receiving only second best?
What if you feel like you do all the receiving and none of the giving?
Not all of us are positioned to ‘give’ at all times, in all places. Or sometimes when we do give, our gifts end up being more a hindrance rather than a blessing.
Continue reading “Is it really better to give than to receive?”
Have your dreams ever been broken? Have you ever wept because something you hoped for will never be?
A ‘broken dream’ sounds like something from a fairy-tale or a Shakespearean sonnet, something which doesn’t quite happen in the 21st century.
Are you brave enough to admit to having broken dreams?
We all have dreams
Who lives entirely in the present? Very few of us! Even if we don’t label them as such, I think we’ve all had dreams, hopes or idealisations of the future.
For some of us, these dreams will involve loving spouses and healthy children.
For others it might look like a peaceful retirement, a satisfying vocation or simply, security.
Continue reading “Broken dreams due to chronic illness are important”
Our Loved One is too healthy.
On the surface this doesn’t really seem like an issue, does it? More like an answer to prayer!
And yet, I’d like to propose it can be a problem too.
As we Watchers know, chronic illness is unremitting, that’s the nature of it. But the reality is, chronic illness, like everything has it’s ups and downs. Some days are better than others, some weeks are worse. Sometimes we can joke and other times all we can do is cry.
This ebb and flow is good. It helps us survive. It brings us hope, it gives us relief. But it can also be a hard reality to communicate.
‘How is your Loved One?’ Someone asks.
‘Not well,’ you say.
‘Oh, but I saw them at the grocery shop the other day, they looked so good!’
This, my friends, is why it can be just as hard when our loved one is well as when they are not.
Continue reading “Help! My sick friend is not very sick…”
I am not going to say that I am thankful for my mum’s diagnosis. I’m not at that stage yet, and I’m not sure if I ever genuinely will be. Yet these past two weeks have left me with much to be thankful for.
So much more than I expected.
Yet I hesitate to share this reality, because it sounds too saccharine.
‘Practising gratitude’ has become a stock ‘self-care’ practice over the last few years and so I am scared of being ‘cliché’.
Not because clichés are wrong or embarrassing (we can’t all be hipsters and there’s really nothing new under the sun!) but because I don’t want my thankfulness to be seen as something artificial.
I am not thankful because I ‘ought’ to be, or because I ‘have’ to be, or because the Bible says I should be. I am thankful because I genuinely have a lot to be thankful for.
Last but not least, I can be thankful because I hold onto a Hope which exists in the aftermath. In the face of suffering and cancer leading to death forever, I would find it hard to be thankful for these things. Yet because I know these little bursts of light are only glimmers of what will come after death, I find I can be thankful.
And so I rejoice and I cry, and I do both at the same time and that does not reduce the potency of either.
Continue reading “I am thankful (sorry it’s cliche!)”
There are no safe guards in this life.
Just because someone suffers from lupus, doesn’t mean they can’t get diagnosed with appendicitis.
Last week my mum who has type 1 diabetes and multiple chronic illnesses was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It’s not fair.
And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be.
I’m going to try not to make this post a mere outpouring of my raw emotions, because that is neither helpful for others, nor in line with the tradition of this blog.
That said, such a diagnosis WILL impact my writing, and it’s not something I can keep quiet about. Partly because it’s real and leaking into every corner of my life, and partly because I hold out the hope that my reflections might help others going through similar trials.
At the moment I’m in the numb stage.
It sort of doesn’t seem real. How can this be happening to my own mum?
Continue reading “After a diagnosis: Why do I feel numb?”
“Lights on, hours before dawn.
In pain someone rolls.
It’s not me, never me,
for whom the bell tolls.”
For me, there is something clarifying in forcing my emotions to submit to the demands of rhythm and rhyme.
Obviously it’s been a while since I posted. Lately my thoughts have not been ordered enough to sit down and blog, the reason for this being that new health problems have arisen in the lives of my Loved Ones (and hence in my life).
And so, I’ve spent some time grieving, some time trying to figure out my response, and even more time wondering what the future will look like. As of yet, I don’t have any answers, and I’m not sure when ones will be forthcoming – but this I know: my God goes on before me.
In an attempt to process this new upheaval I spent some time writing poetry. I offer this as an explanation as to why I haven’t been writing here, but also because I thought perhaps sharing some stanzas might also serve as an explanation, and even an encouragement. Is there anyone else who turns to poetry in order to order their thoughts?
Continue reading “Watchers, we are not Experts in chronic illness”
For years I never considered that this label belonged to me. It seemed too formal, to restrictive, too…important for what I did to help my chronically ill mum.
Hugs and housework and understanding.
Surely those didn’t deserve such a label?
Yet when my younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour and I spent every other day at the hospital and I cared for her in many physical ways from feeding to advocating for her with the pain team, I still didn’t feel this label belonged to me.
But I also felt that I needed the help a label brings.
Without a label I did not have the words to share my story.
(today I’m posting over at Chronic-Joy.org).
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