I have a chronic illness: Is God calling me to sacrifice my health?

Dear Emily,

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?”

Broken dreams due to chronic illness are important

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”

Talking about suffering: When NOT to answer The Question

Some questions should not be answered.
This is not because they are silly or childish (there’s no such thing as a stupid question, remember?)
Or because they are too difficult.
Or even because the answer is too scary.

No, the only reason you should not answer a question is when you have something to offer that is more important.

But what’s more important than an answer?

Talking about suffering: When not to answer the question

Let’s go back to my friend from the last post. She’s struggling from a mental illness which invades her days and eats away at her personality.

Upset and tired she asks me,
‘Why does God allow this?’

Now there is an answer I can give to this. It is a theologically sound answer.

It is correct in every sense of the word. And there’s nothing wrong with my motives – I love my friend, and want to see her comforted and at peace with God and herself.

All the boxes are ticked… and yet depending on the situation my answer could be extraordinarily hurtful to her. And yet, it might not be!

How do I know? Continue reading “Talking about suffering: When NOT to answer The Question”

My son is ill and in jail (Mary’s story)

May this interview be an encouragement that there are others out there too, struggling to love and seeking to give, all the while figuring out what it looks like to do exactly that.

It’s time… for the second interview with another watcher.

The blog series Another Watcher’s Story is a compilation of interviews with other people just like us who are in a relationship with someone suffering from a chronic illness, mental or physical. They may or may not be in an official caregiving role, but they have a unique tale to tell.

The purpose of this blog is to remind us that we are not alone.

So without further ado, let me introduce Mary. Her son suffers from Bipolar, Tourette’s, Anxiety, Autism and Dysgraphia, and her Dad struggles with TIA’s (multiple strokes).
Continue reading “My son is ill and in jail (Mary’s story)”

How to write about Chronic Illness (Watchers, we are not Biographers)

Are you ever tempted to sit down and try and order the pieces of your life?

As you love and care for your sick Loved Ones, do you ever wish you could straighten your hardships out into a coherent narrative, one with a tidy moral and neat conclusion?

Do you feel that if only you had a polished version of your life, it would be a enough to redeem your suffering, because then it would have a purpose?

In short, do you ever neglect your role as a Watcher in order to become ‘Biographer’?

This is what it looks like:

You are often on the look-out for a purpose or a theme behind your Loved One’s suffering, or in day to day occurrences

You have a yearning desire to put each new experience into words so that others can learn

You are tempted to dismiss parts of life which don’t lend themselves to ‘story’

You are drawn to those areas of life which seems just a little bit more dramatic, heroic or exciting

You feel that your life and experiences are wasted if nobody reads about it and learns

I’m going to switch to ‘we’ now, because this is something I am guilty of at times…

Continue reading “How to write about Chronic Illness (Watchers, we are not Biographers)”

2017 taught me that my timing is not always right (and that’s ok!)

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.

2017 taught me that my timing is not always right

2017 was full of projects…

Read more here

this post is published in its entirety on my personal blog, but I felt it was helpful for us over here too!

//What about you? What did 2017 teach your heart?

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Chronic Illness won’t let me celebrate the New Year 2018

As the old year ends and the New Year begins, society gears up to welcome in a new period of life. Parties and fireworks are often external signs of our joy and anticipation of a fresh start.

Many of us begin to make New Years resolutions… but the problem is these simply may not be applicable for you or your loved one suffering from a chronic illness.

With chronic illness, the most common resolutions may seem:

Unachievable (because you have limited energy):

Learn a new skill or language
Organise your life

Ridiculous (If only you had these problems):

Get a better work/life balance
Only party 1x per week

Heart-breaking (if only you could!):

Be the healthiest you possible
Achieve your dreams

Continue reading “Chronic Illness won’t let me celebrate the New Year 2018”

Why my blog will never go viral (reflecting on 2017 as a Watcher)

What I’ve learnt from blogging about chronic illness on Called to Watch

At the moment, even as I’m preparing to look forward to Christmas, 2018, and the future – I’m also looking back.

This is what I’ve learnt:

1. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose

Blogging over the past year has taught me that Watching is a ‘thing’. By this, I mean, loving someone with a chronic illness is a state of being worth talking about. It’s a relationship worth sharing.

It’s actually an important part of who I am – just as it’s a crucial element to who a lot of people are!
Continue reading “Why my blog will never go viral (reflecting on 2017 as a Watcher)”

The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)

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.
Continue reading “The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)”

How to sympathise with "first world" problems

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.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.
Continue reading “How to sympathise with "first world" problems”