When I think of ambition, I see someone fighting tooth and nail to get to the top of their career ladder
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I imagine an athlete, struggling to stay ahead of their peers, striving for Olympic gold
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I picture a work-a-holic father, shutting out his family and surviving on toast and beans in his desire for success
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
And yet, I’ve come to realise over the years that ambition can take different forms. Or perhaps what I am about to describe is not ambition exactly – and yet ambition is the best word I’ve found so far to describe it.
Ambition says, “I can do it all”.
What makes Ambition wrong?
What makes Ambition right?
Am I being called to give Ambition up? Am I okay with that?
And how can our ambition get in the way of our love for others and our calling to Watch?
Your Loved One has lived with their chronic illness for ten years. There’s been highs and lows, but you’re just beginning to understand what life looks like for them and also for you.
Then a close friend receives a diagnosis. They’re sick. Chronically sick… perhaps with the same illness as your loved One, perhaps a slightly different one.
Everyone is dismayed and shocked. They surround the newly-diagnosed one with gifts of love and support. Maybe they look at you, and assume you too will visit and offer your help. After all, you and your Loved One are ‘old hands’.
Perhaps someone nudges you and quips that maybe the past suffering of your Loved One was preparation for loving this person – that all that agony was raising you up for “such a time as this.”
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.
I hate my chronically ill family member
Have you ever thought the above sentence? Maybe not in those words. Substitute ‘hate’ for one of these:
Am annoyed at
Would like to strangle
Does the sentence ring true for you now? Has it ever? If so, this post is for you.
We all live in relationship with other people.
It’s different though, when one of the members of the relationship is always sick. Whether it’s our spouse who is constantly hurting, or our sibling who is often in pain, it makes the relationship difficult.
It can mean their ability to engage in social niceties is limited. Often it means we can’t simply leave them whenever we want – there is no ‘space’ or ‘time out’ in our relationship.
Often this is okay. Other times it’s just too much. And there are some days where we can’t stand the sight of our chronically ill loved ones.
We feel like we are about to explode in frustration or annoyance. Our reservoirs of sympathy have dropped to critical level and we just want to grab them and shake them – or yell, wave our arms and leave.
With no plans to return.
But then we feel guilty. We are absolutely awful people. How can we possible get angry at someone who is sick? How can we stand and yell at someone whom society tells us is more vulnerable than ourselves?
After these thoughts, it’s easy for our frustration to double.
It’s not fair.
Why are other people allowed to have fights with their partner but we can’t? This sickness, it gets in the way of everything. There’s no release for our emotions.
Perhaps your father has been diagnosed with cancer, or your mother with Alzheimer’s, and you’re angry. Angry at everyone: the doctors, yourself, the people around you, the sick person, and most of all, God.
So what do we do?
Smash a few windows? Yell? Break down into tears? What’s the appropriate response?
Is there one?
How do you cope with anger after a chronic illness diagnosis?
What happens when we’re angry at a situation but don’t want to be?
Anger is harmful
I have no “5 Step Plan” to cope with the anger associated with chronic illness. I’m going to admit that up front. But I think it’s helpful to start by admitting that anger is not the best response.
There are more helpful emotions to feel.
I think we all know that. But is anger always wrong? Surely it’s okay to be indignant at injustice, or annoyed at pain.
There’s no simple answer here, no black and white. But we need to remember that righteous or otherwise, anger can hurt people. Anger can cause us to lash out, it can ruin relationships, it can tear apart community. If not addressed will linger and fester, and it will ultimately destroy us.
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!
Perhaps you have been here:
A knock at the door.
It’s a friend, a neighbour. She has just popped over for a chat.
She holds a covered dish:
‘Cooked a bit extra and thought you could do with a home cooked meal’.
She asks how we are, how our Loved One is.
She complains for a while about her work, and how tired she is from the high tea she went to on the weekend. She has another date with friends in a few days but unfortunately it coincides with the birthday of a family member:
‘It’s always the way isn’t it? Everything at once, so frustrating.’
She shifts on the door step:
‘Ah well, no rush to return the dish – we’ll be away for a few weeks.
Going on a cruise. Just a small one. I’m a bit worried actually, I’m terrified I’m coming down with a cold. There’s nothing worse than a sniffly nose!
Anyway, got to rush, I have a hair dressers appointment this afternoon. All the best!’
You juggle the still-warm meal and close the door, the hot smell of cheese and silver foil clouding the air.
After the door is firmly shut and the neighbour out of sight, you give the wood a short, hard kick.