Is it really better to give than to receive?

“It is better to give than to receive.”

This is an oft-quoted-out-of-context verse, but raises an important question: What if you can’t give? Is receiving only second best?

What if you feel like you do all the receiving and none of the giving?
Not all of us are positioned to ‘give’ at all times, in all places. Or sometimes when we do give, our gifts end up being more a hindrance rather than a blessing.

What then?
Continue reading “Is it really better to give than to receive?”

Is it always right to ‘bear’ someone else’s ‘burden’?

Is there anyone in your life who is dependent on you?

Sooner or later most of us want to sit down and plan our future, or at least make a “five-year plan”. Yet if you are a caregiver, this can be difficult.

The Bible tells us to “bear each other’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2) – But, when those burdens interfere with your personal goals, are you allowed to set them aside?

Is it possible to love your sick family member, and at the same time plan a future for yourself?

Why is it more difficult to plan for the future as a caregiver?

Planning for the future is hard for everyone. Whether you have too many possibilities or not enough, it’s difficult to figure out what something we have never experienced will look like.

Most of us have dreams we’d like to see become reality, or at the very least we dream that one day we will have dreams.

Considering our future in the presence of chronic illness is even harder. Illness is unpredictable. We can’t say how long our family member will need us, or how soon they will take a turn for the better or the worse.

We need to be realistic, but also hopeful.

Loving someone who is ill or aging means that whatever decisions you make, you are making them for two. That is a lot of responsibility, and there is a huge pressure to ‘choose right’.

Today I am posting somewhere different: Read more about bearing burdens are caregivers here!

 

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What to do when someone you love has a chronic illness and you are too young

When someone we love receives a chronic illness diagnosis, it is easy to feel helpless.

This is magnified when you are “young”.

After all, you can’t offer lifts to doctors’ appointments and you can’t be there all the time, because you have to go to school.

Perhaps your offers to help aren’t taken seriously, or people overlook you in the mad rush to help your sick family member.

What do you do when you are too young to love?…

This post was first published on The Rebelution. Read the rest here!

 

(Image courtesy of original publication).

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Do you laugh at misfortune?

“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”

It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores.

In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune.

So where do we draw the line?

Today I’m guest posting over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post.

It addresses an issue which is particularly pertinent to us as Watchers!

 

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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.

Continue reading “How to love your wider supporters”

Why do our ‘wider supporters’ matter?

We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness.
We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.
But what about those who fit into neither category?

We all like to use labels.

And they are necessary, and useful. Sometimes, however, they miss the mark. They cause us to overlook questions that need to be asked, and they paint the entire situation with broad sweeps, when actually, life is a lot more intricate.

When they leave us talking about ‘them’ and ‘those people’, it’s easy to forget that some of the time, in some circumstances, those people are ‘us’.

We are all wider supporters

It doesn’t matter if we are also individuals suffering with chronic illnesses or caregivers. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met anyone with a chronic illness or we work in a hospital and it’s all we see.

Continue reading “Why do our ‘wider supporters’ matter?”

Help! People keep asking after my chronically sick family member…

“… and there’s nothing left to say.”

Chronic illness is…well, chronic. For the most part, not only does it not end, but it remains the same.

Of course there are changes, developments, progressions – but these are generally subtle in nature and may vary between individuals.

Perhaps our Loved One is slowly but surely declining.

Or maybe their sickness fluctuates without rhyme or reason. Some days they are well, others they are not.

Or perhaps there is simply no visible change at all, just a long, monotonous pain.
Continue reading “Help! People keep asking after my chronically sick family member…”

Our role in someone else’s suffering is bigger than you think

In one sense our role in someone else’s chronic illness is quite small. We certainly can’t ‘redeem’ their suffering or even carry their burden for them! HOWEVER, I do believe that Watching someone going through a hard time and “being there” for them is the very best thing you can do.

Here’s why.

Our role in someone else’s suffering is bigger than we think because:

1: The people we Watch are precious

There’s a line in the Jewish Talmud which states:

‘To save one Jewish life is the same as saving the world entire.’

(immortalised in “Schindler’s List”).

That is an immense claim and it raises a lot of problematic questions (such as: does that mean everything is permissible if it saves one life? What if that person is a murderer? What does it actually mean to save a life?).

Rather than delving into the philosophy behind this quote, I want to focus on the fact that every life is infinitely important.

Each person is created by God, in the image of God, for a purpose and a reason.

God cares deeply about each and every life – and so should we.

our role in suffering www.calledtowatch.com #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope (1)

2: The people we Watch are immortal

C. S. Lewis touches on this when he describes us as having “immortal souls” (The Weight of Glory).

We are creatures of eternity.

As a result our lives are important. Not only our lives after death, but our lives before it too.

Every second that we live on this earth is one of cosmic significance. Not because we are great but because we are greatly loved.

Our Loved Ones have immortal souls.

There are beautiful things on this earth that only last a short while. Sunsets die away and flowers whither. Yet God did not create us to be sunsets or withering flowers. He gave us eternal souls and in doing so demonstrated that in His eyes we are more important than all the beauties of nature.

Not only so, but He sacrificed Himself to have a relationship with the human race despite the fact that we are undeserving of such love.

3: The people we Watch are not accidents or mistakes.

It is this careful creation and painstaking redemption that sanctifies every prosaic moment on earth. Every smile, every phone call, every scrubbed kitchen floor has eternal consequences.

Our role as Watchers is important because God has given it to us.

The huge sacrifices of time and money are important – and so are the tiny, speechless moments. The visible burdens are significant and so are the unseen ones.

If God has said that washing the dishes is important, who are we to argue otherwise?

Will you embrace your role and see it as important?

While Watching is not an answer to the ‘Problem of Pain’ that doesn’t mean we’re not important. If a spoon won’t cut my toast, it doesn’t mean the spoon is useless. It simply means it was created for something else.

Watching is not an antidote to suffering, but it may be a balm.

We may not be able to solve their problems or even lessen their pain. Our endeavours to soothe may be useless and our attempts to help may prove futile. But standing by one person and loving them is enough. Living the life of a Watcher because we have no choice is enough.

It is enough because people matter. Every one of us is precious, immortal and part of God’s plan. As a result our role in someone else’s suffering – even when it seems insignificant – it actually huge.

// Do you believe your everyday life is important? Do you live like it is?

Don’t be shy. Join the conversation and comment below!


The companion to this post is:

Your role in someone else’s suffering is smaller than you think


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How to be prepared to talk about someone else’s illness

Answering questions about your Loved One takes a lot of getting used to.
Watching is unique in that people always have something to talk to you about.

Watching means that you, your Loved One, and their sickness, become common ground.

All of a sudden topics that under normal circumstances would require sensitivity, caution, a relationship or ‘easing into’ become a free for all.

And that’s hard to get used to. It never really becomes normal. People will always expect you to be able to answer deep, painful questions at a drop of a hat. Questions like:

How are you feeling?
Is it hard having a mum/dad/sibling/spouse/friend who is sick all the time?
How is your Loved One?
Does your Loved One get depressed?
Does your Loved One know that you find their illness hard?
Continue reading “How to be prepared to talk about someone else’s illness”