Most of us know someone who struggles with their health. Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with a physical chronic illness, or they struggle daily with their mental health. As their friend, we seek to love and serve them in their suffering.
But how often do we remember their children?
What about the children with chronically ill parents?
Chronic illness or Christmas? Which would you prefer?
I know which one I’d choose. But too often we don’t have a choice – and this is very evident during the holiday season.
Over Christmas we often spend more time with family, and for many of us, that means spending more time with Chronic Illness.
Chronic Illness doesn’t go on holidays over Christmas…
While the shops and the media try to convince us that by November 1 we have entered into a ‘new world’ of perfectly laid tables, wrapped gifts and dizzying heights of tinsel – most of us know that’s not quite true.
When I was little I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor. Not because I had an undying desire to see sick people healed, but because there was one ill person I wanted to cure. I longed to take away my mum’s pain with a single flick of a pen on a prescription pad.
While my career aspirations soon headed off down a different track, I think this desire is something we can all sympathise with. To some extent it never does away.
As care-givers and support-bearers and Watchers we would love to see our Loved Ones healed. Yet it can become dangerous when this simple desire begins to morph into something subtly different: a belief that it is our responsibility to cure them.
When this happens we swap our role as a Watcher for that of a “doctor”.
Watchers we are not… doctors
Do you ever feel the need to cure your chronically ill loved one?
Have you accidentally become a “doctor”? Do you ever:
Feel your goal in the relationship is to bring healing?
Spend time collecting remedies (via Google, word of mouth etc) and offering them to your Loved One?
Feel better when you can diagnose the cause of your Loved One’s distress that day. Does being able to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and use the appropriate words to describe and understand it, reassure you?
Feel like a failure when you are unable to reduce your Loved One’s suffering, or bring them relief?
“Watchers, we are not doctors. We have a higher calling.” Tweet @calledtowatch
Some struggles win our sympathy easily.
My mother died.
I have cancer.
We are being evicted.
These announcements normally evoke an emotional response. We recognise them as huge, world-breaking problems. They are tragedies with capital ‘T’s.
For this reason it is often easier to sympathise with our chronically ill friend, than our whining-about-their-chipped-nails colleague. And yet, we’ve discussed that as humans (and even more so as Christ-followers) we really ought to sympathise with both.
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.