How is Watching going for you? Are you in a season of relative peace or does it feel like troubles are knocking at your door and crowding out your view of Jesus?
Whichever it is, (and maybe it’s both!) I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately about the most important reminders for our Watching journey. The theme of Called to Watch this year is Watching for the Long Haul, and so far we’ve reflected on:
But if there were two things I could always have at the forefront of my mind as I Watch, two things which would make a real difference to the way I Watch and equip me for the long haul, it would be these:
Watching is hard, and yet when it comes to surviving and thriving in long-term Watching, I think we often fall into 3 misconceptions.
3 misconceptions about Watching
1: Only people who are even-keeled, happy –go-lucky pragmatists can survive and thrive Watching over the long-term Watching. I’m not suited for this.
2: Watching is hard, and so I’m inevitably going to become cynical/bitter/depressed. It’s just a natural human response.
3: When it gets hard, the Christian thing to do is ‘deal’ with it quickly, and move on. It’s not good to dwell on the difficulty.
Now there’s a certain modicum of truth in all of these. Some personalities might be ‘naturally’ better suited to watching; it’s understandable if you find yourself growing cynical or depressed; and it’s not particularly helpful to ruminate on your troubles.
What a year. For many of you (myself included!) 2021 was supposed to be the year where things got back on track. The year where the ‘new normal’ (which has been spoken about for so long!) finally appeared.
I don’t know about you, but for me that was not the case. Australia went into its strictest lock-down so far (just under 6 months). Study went back on-line; the exhausting debate surrounding the morality restrictions/vaccinations arose; most relationships were maintained by phone-calls or zoom.
The introverts and the extroverts suffered; the chronically ill and the healthy; the front-line workers and the home-schooling parents. And this was only Australia – which in many ways had a wonderful covid situation compared to the rest of the world.
In the midst of all of this, it was interesting to see which posts on this blog were most popular. So, without further ado, I will continue the tradition begun here.
Maybe readership on this one soared due to the publication of my memoir Two Sisters and a Brain Tumour. Or perhaps everyone else has found navigating a relationship in sickness and health as difficult as I have! If so, I hope this post helped and will continue to help us all.
It felt like I wrote more letters and cards in lockdown than normally – I certainly posted more parcels (mostly copies of my two books!). I also noticed the impact of the pandemic on writing cards – everyone’s situation was so different, and our isolation far greater. Sometimes finding the words was just really hard – and it seems like you guys thought so too!
This is a perennial question – and one I’ve certainly struggled with over the years. What does the Bible say about chronic illness, does Jesus care, and where is God when everything is dark and awful? As I found out last year as I learnt the basics of Ancient Hebrew + Ancient Greek, God’s word is rich and varied and sometimes speaks in surprising ways, once we leave our assumptions at the door.
This post has possibly been the most contentious one on the blog – but I stand by my commitment to chronicling ALL aspects of life as a Watcher, even the unsavoury or ‘unChristian’ ones. It seems that in doing so, I’ve written something which continues to resonate with us all – and also continues to offer comfort.
Ta da! This post has been the most viewed post for a while now, and it was no surprise to find it at the top of the list when I checked the stats. The reality is, watching someone suffer is incredibly hard, and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how and why, because it seems so obvious. Yet the more words we are able to find, the more encouragement we are able to give others, and the better we are able to pray.
5 year blog anniversary
So… here’s to 2022! This year marks the 5 year anniversary of this blog, and in response I’ll be posting a series of posts about ‘Watchers: In it for the Long Haul’. Chronic illness is often long and sometimes tedious and always exhausting. How do we, as Watchers, persevere? How do we look after ourselves, approach daily difficulties, and look to the future?
Stay tuned (sign up for updates!) as I seek to uncover some answers.
‘I trust you.’ ‘I believe you.’ ‘Okay.’ Expressions of trust can seem simple, and can be a great gift to those who receive them. When we trust another person, we show respect, bolster confidence, and validate experience.
We are effectively saying, ‘I hear you,I believe you know what you’re talking about, and I am going to assume that you are capable and autonomous until proven otherwise.’ We are demonstrating a ‘firm belief in someone’s reliability, ability and truthfulness’ (thank you, Oxford Dictionary).
So far that sounds quite straightforward.
Yet in the context of chronic illness, trust can often be accepting your chronically ill Loved One’s assessment of their capabilities, believing their description of the situation, and assuming they have valid ideas, dreams and motivations.
I, like many of you, had made multiple plans… and they didn’t all come to fruition! I took a sabbatical from this blog, and also tried to take a sabbatical generally, but due to the wonders and the horrors which made up 2020, that didn’t quite happen.
Due to Covid, I was more active on Called to Watch than the word ‘sabbatical’ might suggest! I was also published on several other online spaces, including Eternity News, Lupus Chick, Penetrating the Darkness and Chronic Joy (where you can now LISTEN to my posts!). If you haven’t seen those articles, check them out!
It might be nice to dream of brushing 2020 under the carpet as we enter 2021 with hopeful hearts, determined to have a Better Year. I’m all for hope, but I suspect many of us will begin this year still processing what has happened and dealing with the changes in everyday and global life. That’s more than okay, and therefore this year on Called to Watch I want to focus on TRUST.
Many of us are probably well acquainted with this idea. A tiny niggling pain, a doctor’s visit, a diagnosis – and suddenly, nothing will ever be the same again.
We constantly live on the edge of this uncertainty. All of us – every day, every minute.
Covid19 and chronic illness
For as long as I can remember I have known I will not have my mum forever, and yet that split second phone call during my lunch break at work when I heard she had a mass in her pancreas still changed everything.
For as long as I can remember I’ve devoured books where dramatic things happen. Kids die too young; people are wounded in battle; last minute inheritances save the day; all is lost and all is rescued over and pver again. Yet I still remember exactly where I was when I found out that my ten year old friend had died suddenly from an undiagnosed brain tumour.
Likewise, I suspect that while many of us may “know” the speed with which reality can be remade, these past few weeks of of COVID-19 have also come as a bit of shock. No one really expects a pandemic. Not many people imagine that soon their actions – perhaps already severely curtailed by disease or circumstance – will be hedged further by governments seeking to prevent disaster.
What’s your goal in troubled times? As much as we’re often told that it’s okay to simply survive, most of us, if we’re completely honest, want more than that.
We want to turn something bad into something good. Something worthwhile. Maybe even something precious. There’s a reason so many cancer tragedies end in the formation of an organisation or charity. There’s a reason we prefer tales of people who have overcome illness, rather than the much more common stories of being overcome.
Christians talk a lot about peace. So much so that it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong it you’re not an unflappable yogi during trials.