Wait! This is chaos.

Make it go away. I hate you. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s okay, I don’t care. Leave me alone. I love you.

Beginning to Watch

For some people diagnosis comes quickly, a lightning spring shower swooping out of nowhere, tearing the sky apart. One moment they are healthy and happy – and the next they’re crying in pain and fear. For others it’s gradual, like following a paper trail, picking up pieces of the puzzle one at a time until everything makes sense, and the sneaking suspicion is confirmed.

Sometimes we as Watchers are there in the moment of discovery, we are following them down the path and scrunching the clues damply in our hands. I have been there. Other times we arrive in the middle or come rushing in at the end. Often we can enter their lives after a decade or two have passed, and then we struggle to understand not only the illness, but the many highs and lows of the intervening years. We could not be with them during that pivotal moment and now we feel as though we have a lifetime of catching up to do. I’ve experienced that too.copy-of-quote-pinterest-template

Continue reading “Wait! This is chaos.”

How this blog came to be

CALLED TO WATCH is the result of 3 convictions:

  1. Everything is important. There is no part of life which does not deserve to be spoken about.There is a purpose to all things, and nothing is wasted.
  2. God is the answer to all things. Even chronic sickness. Even suffering. Not only is He the answer to the big questions like “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but to the little ones as well, like “What happens when I simply run out of sympathy?” or “When is it alright to be pessimistic?” The Bible, His Word, must hold the answer to these questions.
  3. We were made for community. No one is supposed to suffer alone, and we draw immeasurable comfort in sharing our thoughts and knowing that others experience life in similar ways.

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What this blog is not

This is not a blog about a specific illness. It doesn’t focus on chronic fatigue or diabetes or lupus.

This is not a blog giving tips on how to love people who are sick. This blog assumes you already love them; assumes they are your mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, daughter, fiancé, husband, wife, son, grandfather, friend or neighbour.

This is not a blog of devotions, ‘encouragements’ or ‘inspirations’. It’s not a place of anecdotes or images of flowers superimposed with Bible verses.

This is not a personal blog. It’s not meant to represent the story of one person, but rather the journeys of all of us who Watch.

This is not a blog trying to sell an e-course or an ebook. It’s not trying to promote a certain herbal tea or endorse a particular program.

What this blog is

This blog delves deeply into the question of how chronic illness, whether mental  or physical, impacts the lives of those who don’t have it. It looks at what life is like for those of us who must stand by and Watch people we love suffer.

This is a blog of encouragement. Because perhaps we are called to Watch, but we have not been called to Watch alone. It isn’t a blog with all the answers. It’s written by a fallible person, grappling with what it means to trust in an infallible God when life is full of tears and agony and repeated disappointments.

Welcome, friends.

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What is a Watcher, and am I Watching?

What is it like to Watch? Can anyone Watch? Why blog about it?

Welcome, my fellow Watchers!

First things first. Who are we? We are the family members, the friends, the spouses, the work colleagues of individuals with a chronic illness. That illness may be physical or mental. It may be recognized or undiagnosed. It doesn’t matter. What does is that someone we love is suffering.

And that’s hard.

Why the term ‘Watcher’? I was searching for a word that was all-encompassing. I wanted to avoid the label ‘carer’ – which has connotations of being paid and seems constrained to mere physical care of another. Physical care is invaluable and many of us may provide this for our Loved Ones. Yet others of us do not. It may not be our place, our role, or it may not even be necessary.

Nevertheless, our life is still entwined with our Loved One. We wince as they wince. We struggle with the fact that we can’t heal them. We get frustrated over the fact that sometimes we can’t make the situation better, or even more bearable.

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What does it feel like to Watch?

We find ourselves helpless, and this is painful and even embarrassing.

And this is even harder because we didn’t choose to Watch. Perhaps we were born into a family where one of the members was already sick, or perhaps they became so as we grew up with them. Perhaps we fell in love with someone, or began a friendship and then sickness came. Or perhaps we knew about it already, but still there was no choice because there was no sickness-free version of them available.

And so we walk beside them, or in front of them, or behind them. We cannot choose to walk a mile in their shoes, as the common saying goes. Even that is denied us.

There’s nothing we can do except Watch them suffer.

We are the healthy ones. We are the ones with the world at our fingertips and all the blessings a working body and healthy mind brings. We answer the question “How is your Loved One?” not the question “How are you?”

We Watch them and no one watches us.

We Watch them struggle, and attempt to communicate their ups and downs to others around us. We fail often, because there are no words. Meanwhile we suffer too. Vicariously, yes, as we see them go through agony, but in our own right also. Because there’s nothing easy about Watching.

Nothing at all.

 Who are these “Watchers”?

It’s not some exclusive club. In a sense everyone is a Watcher, at some point of their lives. And we Watchers know only too well that there’s nothing heroic about suffering. Nothing distinguished about Watching. This is not because it’s hard, because there are plenty of miseries that are heroic, plenty of hard things that are worth applauding. The reason there’s nothing special about being a Watcher, is that it’s simply part of life.

There are so many illnesses, so many burdens. No person’s load – or pair of shoes, if we are to continue the analogy – is the same as another. And so all people Watch, but all Watchers are always alone.

Aloneness. That’s such a large part of what makes Watching so hard. We all fear being alone, and illness just accentuates this. We long for someone to stand by our side and grasp our forearm and say with that knowing, quiet voice and full eyes, “I get it. I understand.”

That is what this blog is for. Because there are two answers to loneliness. One is community, the other is God. May this blog point us to them both.

 Why start a blog on Watching?

Being a Watcher brings its own unique problems and its unique joys. It’s a journey that goes on and on – and encouragement is needed for the everyday. Furthermore, it’s a journey that begins and ends, and we need help for those times too. It’s also a journey that, like every journey, will at some point encounter God. This blog is about that too.

I don’t have all the answers. Often I have none. I can’t guarantee that what I write here will help you. All I can pray is that these words will help you ponder your life as they have helped me ponder mine – and that your experience will be the richer for it. All I can hope is that they will provide a feeble sense of community and a less-feebler sense of God. Like C. S. Lewis, I have only,

“… been emboldened to write of it because I notice that a man seldom mentions what he had supposed to be his most idiosyncratic sensations without receiving from at least one (often more) of those present the reply, ‘What! Have you felt that too? I thought I was the only one.'”

                                     ~ C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

//Do you think it’s right to put a label on what Watchers do? What do you think Watchers need above all else? Don’t be a silent reader – share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

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