What to do when you are unable to serve your local community due to sickness

There are seasons for all of us where we are not able to do all we want. When chronic illness enters the picture, these seasons can be long indeed. It can be especially difficult when we are unable to serve or help our local community.

For those of us who are part of a church, a neighbourhood, a sports club or a community group we know what it is to volunteer our time and energy. It is a worthwhile and often enjoyable experience.

It can be challenging and even draining, but there’s something about working as part of a team toiling towards a common goal that can be very uplifting.

If you are a Christian, it is also part of fulfilling Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour”.

Yet illness can get in the way of even our most passionate desires to serve. Being available for a Loved One struggling with their health can mean we are unable to give of our time or energy.

So what do we do?

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How to serve your local community when your family member is sick

What does it look like for us to love and serve other people besides our family member with a chronic illness? Is it possible? Is it necessary?

I’ve written previously about serving with a chronic illness, and serving overseas when someone you love has a chronic illness. But what about serving in your local church or community?

Should you serve your local community if your family member is sick?

If you are part of a local church or community, there are probably numerous opportunities to serve. Often during a Sunday morning worship service alone, you could potentially:

Play a musical instrument

Sing

Do a reading or announcement

Usher people in

Open up/lock up the building

Help in baby sit

Teach in Sunday school

Make coffee/tea

Clean up the kitchen/building

… and that’s all within the space of about two hours! Throughout the week there are often many other situations in which you can fulfil the Biblical commandment to serve and love one another.

Yet it’s not that easy, is it? Those of us who have a family member with a chronic illness can find all the opportunities to serve somewhat daunting. There is so much need… and yet perhaps we find ourselves ill-suited to fill it.

Continue reading “How to serve your local community when your family member is sick”

Loving a sick person is too hard! (Watchers, we are not impartial observers)

I’ve been absent lately.

I’ve discovered that it’s quite difficult to type with a broken wrist!

I’m also settling in to what it looks like to be at home, loving someone going through chemotherapy.

It’s not easy. Patience and domestic duties have never been my strong points. Far from it actually. Some days I want to give it all up and become an “impartial observer”. It hurts much less when you fail and takes far less effort!

Nevertheless, God has called me to be a Watcher right now, so I pray and know He will equip me in all the ways necessary (and probably in a lot I’d like to pretend aren’t necessarily, like the ability to  ‘see’ what needs  to be done around the house or remember to pick up my own clothes from the floor).

ALSO an exciting piece of news: This is the 100th post on Called to Watch! Is there someone you know who might find this blog helpful? Take a moment to send them the link, or sign up for email updates!

Being a Watcher is hard, and instead of ‘really’ caring, it’s tempting to disengage emotionally. When this happens, we become “impartial observers”.

Continue reading “Loving a sick person is too hard! (Watchers, we are not impartial observers)”

Watchers, we are not Experts in chronic illness

“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.

Happy Thursday!

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”

We cannot be everything (We are Watchers, not…Master List)

This is a blog about ‘Watching’. That is, loving suffering people while not suffering yourself.
But what does that look like? It can (and does!) look like many things, but sometimes it’s helpful to look at what we are not.

Master List: Watchers, we are not…

Watchers, we are not… Doctors

We just want them cured – is that so wrong?

is it wrong to want your loved one cured www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Watchers, we are not… Biographers

If only we could decipher the ‘meaning’ behind their suffering!

How to write about chronic illness www.calledtowatch.com #holidays #reading #amreading #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching

Watchers, we are not… Saints

Of course we’re fine, after all, we’ve got this!

Are you always fine Watchers, we are not saints www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Continue reading “We cannot be everything (We are Watchers, not…Master List)”

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

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.
Continue reading “What if they don’t understand? (Watchers we are not delegates!)”

“I’m fine, don’t worry about me!”(Watchers, we are not Saints)

“I’m okay.”
“I’ve got this.”
“Honestly, it’s fine, I promise.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are only a Watcher, and instead begin to think that we are (or should be) a “saint”.
This is what it looks like:

Watchers, we are not saints

Do you…

  • …. feel guilty all the time. I’m not a good Watcher. Not even passable. Why can’t I do anything right?
  • … gloss over your hardships and sacrifices. Oh I don’t do much, not at all. Yes I spent all day driving my loved one to appointments in the rain, but that doesn’t matter. It was nothing!
  • … never share your problems. I’m going fine. One’s got to do what they’ve got to do! Other people have it worse, after all.

Continue reading ““I’m fine, don’t worry about me!”(Watchers, we are not Saints)”

Friends, we are not doctors. (Is it wrong to want your chronically ill Loved One cured?)

When I was little I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor. Not because I had an undying desire to see sick people healed, but because there was one ill person I wanted to cure. I longed to take away my mum’s pain with a single flick of a pen on a prescription pad.

While my career aspirations soon headed off down a different track, I think this desire is something we can all sympathise with. To some extent it never does away.

As care-givers and support-bearers and Watchers we would love to see our Loved Ones healed. Yet it can become dangerous when this simple desire begins to morph into something subtly different: a belief that it is our responsibility to cure them.
When this happens we swap our role as a Watcher for that of a “doctor”.

Watchers we are not… doctors

Do you ever feel the need to cure your chronically ill loved one?

Have you accidentally become a “doctor”? Do you ever:

  • Feel your goal in the relationship is to bring healing?
  • Spend time collecting remedies (via Google, word of mouth etc) and offering them to your Loved One?
  • Feel better when you can diagnose the cause of your Loved One’s distress that day. Does being able to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and use the appropriate words to describe and understand it, reassure you?
  • Feel like a failure when you are unable to reduce your Loved One’s suffering, or bring them relief?

“Watchers, we are not doctors. We have a higher calling.” Tweet @calledtowatch

Continue reading “Friends, we are not doctors. (Is it wrong to want your chronically ill Loved One cured?)”

Thinking about chronic illness: Why I find it hard to think about sickness and Watching

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”

4 reasons admitting we are sad is not that easy

I find it quite difficult to respond to: ‘How are you?’
With, ‘Sad.’
It doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer somehow.

It seems a bit silly to even have to say this, but when a Loved One is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can make us feel sad.

It sounds ridiculous. Of course when someone is sick it is going to make us sad. But I genuinely believe it’s not that simple. At least it wasn’t for me.

4 reasons we find it hard to be sad after a diagnosis

1. Sadness is unexpected

To be sad – and only sad – is quite rare.

Life is complex, and so we are often experience several emotions at a time, particularly in the wake of a chronic illness diagnosis.

Our grief is often tainted with anger or bitterness or frustration, or even exhaustion. As a result, when we find ourselves ‘simply’ sad, and ‘only’ grieving, it can feel a bit odd. It is an experience we are not prepared for, and don’t know how to cope with.

This can be uncomfortable and confusing. It was for me. Continue reading “4 reasons admitting we are sad is not that easy”