They say you never stop learning. Though sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you’re learning while you’re learning it!
Often I come away from a season in my life with the sense that I’ve just learned something: that my character has been shaped, that my knowledge has grown… but am unable to put into words exactly what.
That’s why I Iove reflection. Over the last few months there’s been an increasing pressure on my soul because I learnt something in 2017 that is important, and I don’t want it to dissipate as the calendar flips over.
Instead I want to cradle this truth close as I march out into 2018. So here’s my attempt to put it down in letters on a white screen, so that the lesson might be worth the learning.
Recently I went away, and beforehand I did some preparation. Not the ‘buy insurance’, ‘print your papers’, ‘get the correct address’ sort of preparation, which unfortunately I was rather sadly lacking in (thank you Long-Suffering Friend!) – but character preparation.
What’s that, you ask?
It’s the type of preparation that I’ve discovered is essential for me to ‘get the most’ out of a holiday – as a human, friend, Watcher and Christian.
While this was one of the few times I travelled without my loved ones who struggle with chronic illness, many of the ways I prepared were born out of holidays I’ve taken with them in the past.
These 5 ways are (in my mind!) applicable whether you’re travelling with chronically ill friends or by yourself, and even whether you’re going overseas or simply staying at home and taking some time out.
However, because they’re not specifically about chronic illness, I’ve published them on my other blog.
// I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree, disagree? How do you prepare for holidays?
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!
Chronic illness or Christmas? Which would you prefer?
I know which one I’d choose. But too often we don’t have a choice – and this is very evident during the holiday season.
Over Christmas we often spend more time with family, and for many of us, that means spending more time with Chronic Illness.
Chronic Illness doesn’t go on holidays over Christmas…
While the shops and the media try to convince us that by November 1 we have entered into a ‘new world’ of perfectly laid tables, wrapped gifts and dizzying heights of tinsel – most of us know that’s not quite true.
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.
Some struggles win our sympathy easily.
My mother died.
I have cancer.
We are being evicted.
These announcements normally evoke an emotional response. We recognise them as huge, world-breaking problems. They are tragedies with capital ‘T’s.
For this reason it is often easier to sympathise with our chronically ill friend, than our whining-about-their-chipped-nails colleague. And yet, we’ve discussed that as humans (and even more so as Christ-followers) we really ought to sympathise with both.
This week I was sick. Not chronically sick. Not even break-your-leg sick or appendicitis-need-operation sick. Merely stomach bug sick.
Uncomfortable, rather depressing, but half a week later and I was over it and back at work.
But something had changed.
While I was unwell I learned three very important truths about chronic illness – and I don’t want to ever forget them.
3 things I learnt about being chronically ill
1. Chronic illness means you are ill.
Don’t get me wrong, I never thought it was a walk in the park.
All my life my mum has battled various autoimmune diseases, and in the past few years I’ve watched my younger sister go through many similar struggles. I know personally how chronic illness can drain families, disrupt lives and sabotage futures.
But there’s nothing like being sick yourself to remember that the act of being sick in itself is awful.