How to love your wider supporters

It’s easy for us, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers.

We should not overlook the lives of our wider supporters and focus exclusively on our sick Loved One. So far, so obvious, but how do we put it into practice?

How do we love our wider supporters (and why do we need a post on this?)

Surely, if we all just act like civilised human beings there’s no need for a specific address on how to ‘love’ those who are not watching as we are.

On one hand that’s true, and on another it’s not. You see, Watching means that we are used to having the pain of one person impact our life. We are used to focusing inward, towards them. We know what it is like to relate to people who are suffering.

And we might, in the process, discover we have a lot less patience for those who are not.

This, my friends, is somewhat natural.

It is also a problem.

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What to do when our wider supporters hurt us

Wider supporters will hurt us at times

I think it’s important to acknowledge that either directly or inadvertently, wider supporters can sometimes make life harder rather than easier. It’s part of being human and living in a broken world.

They may:

  • Brush away your complaints or concerns. “Ah well, sickness is part of life, isn’t it? We all have burdens.”
  • Ask you to take up ministry opportunities when your life is full of caring for your Loved One
  • Compare your suffering to theirs, “Oh I know exactly how you feel”
  • Tell you exactly how they feel – without asking how you are
  • Assume they know what you need, or what you ought to do
  • Treat you differently because you are a Watcher
  • Treat you exactly the same, as if being a Watcher has not affected you.
  • Treat you as a walking newsletter, rather than an individual in your own right

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Sickness and Jesus’ response

We can talk on and on about how we ought to respond to our chronically sick Loved Ones.

We can outline what the Right Thing to do is, or make lists of What Not To Do.

But in the end, if we claim Jesus as our Saviour and role model, the only thing that really matters is how He responded.

Like father, like son.

Like Saviour, like saved.

Being a Christian is copying Jesus.

But Jesus is impossible to copy!

When we think about Jesus’ response to the sick, we think immediately of his miraculous healings – and then we give up.

In case you haven’t realised … we can’t heal.

Of course we can implement medicine or relief strategies, but we can’t wave our hands and miraculously banish sickness.

If only.

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Should we use labels?

‘Don’t restrain me.’
‘Labels are limiting.’
‘We shouldn’t put people in boxes.’

‘Everything is fluid.’
‘Categorizing someone stops them reaching their full potential.’

We don’t like labels.

Talk to anyone who is in tune with the 21st century about political correctness and common courtesy and phrases like the above will arise.

Yet it has been blatantly obvious from the very beginning that I have fixed a very firm label on myself and others on this blog.

Here are some of them:

Watchers – those in a close relationship with chronically suffering people

Wider Watchers – those who are not in a close relationship with chronic sufferers

Loved Ones – the chronic sufferers themselves

Labels restrain us

Why have I done this?

To be perfectly simple, I wouldn’t be able to write without them. I need to have these definitions in order to muse and blog and think about our specific situation.

First things first, let’s clear the waters and accept the inevitable truth:

Labels (inadvertently or otherwise) do place limits.

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