A while ago I read a fascinating article about phatic communication, or ‘small talk’. Phatic communication is speech which serves a purpose other than that implied by the words used. An example would be the question, “how are you?”
What this question is actually asking is, “how are you physically/mentally?” Yet how many of us actually answer this? And why don’t we?
It’s not because we’re being rude or ignoring the question. In fact, often askers are surprised when someone lists their current physical health in response! It’s because we understand that in our social context the question is often merely a greeting, a social nicety which has to be used before the ‘proper’ conversation can begin.
An example of phatic communication (small talk!)
Often when I run I call out a (breathless) ‘hi!’ or ‘good evening/morning!’ as I pass someone by. About 3 times out of ten, someone will reply. Out of that 30%, at least half reply with ‘good thanks’ or ‘I’m well thanks’ – despite the fact that I never asked if they were!
This is because they are so used to ‘how are you’ being part of ‘hello’ and other social niceties (or nonenties!) that they assume I’ve asked and thus reply automatically.
Continue reading “Why small talk is so important in chronic illness (& why I neglect it!)”
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.
It’s not just about the consequences or the collateral damage.
The minute-by-minute pains and nausea, the feelings of exhaustion, the frustration and the helplessness – it’s a horrible thing to experience.
I never want to forget that chronic illness means you are sick, and being sick is awful.
Continue reading “3 things a stomach bug taught me about chronic illness”
“Jesus knows what you’re going through.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus as a High Priest can sympathise with all of our sufferings. That He knows what it is to be human.
I have often rebelled against that.
Was Mary sick with an incurable disease? Was Joseph? Did one of Jesus’ brothers or sisters suffer from epilepsy or depression or MS?
If not, then how can He possibly know what it’s like to be a Watcher?
How can He possibly sympathise with me?
Continue reading “Can Jesus really sympathise?”
Have you ever felt over the moon with joy – only to have someone snipe at you for being “too idealistic?”
We’ve all met That Person. The one with a hard life and huge smile. They never seem ‘down’ and they’re always hopeful about the future, even when there seems to be little to hope in!
Perhaps you’re that person. Or maybe you’re more inclined to the opposite view… You understand that life is hard and it probably won’t get any better, and having fun is all very nice, but it’s not reality!
Idealism or pessimism? Which is the right response when confronted with tragedy and illness?
It’s easy to judge a response when it’s the opposite to our own
If you’re bubbly and full of life it can be extremely disheartening when others “drag you down”. It’s not pleasant to have our “bubbles burst” or our happiness frowned at!
Continue reading “Idealism or Pessimism: which is the right response to suffering?”
There’s a reason this post is titled ‘Watching is a privilege’ rather than ‘Watching is easy’.
Am I going crazy?
Following on the heels of the previous post, ‘Watching is hard’, the title above seems incongruous. But be assured, what follows will not cancel out what was written previously.
Watching remains hard, very hard. But I’d like to propose that it is also a privilege. It is an opportunity, and a very unique one. You see, the world around us says that a good and normal life is one full of ease and comfort, luxuries and relational happiness.
That’s all very well, and ideally maybe such a life would be good and normal.
But we know it is not.
Continue reading “Watching is a PRIVILEGE”