The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)

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.

Eight hundred polished words are not the same as a polished life.
Continue reading “The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)”

How to sympathise with "first world" problems

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.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.
Continue reading “How to sympathise with "first world" problems”

Why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth (even if it hurts)

Have you ever been hurt by someone? I have.
When it happens there are two things I want to do. I want to tell them they were in the wrong… and I want to tell someone else what occurred.

But what happens when it’s my chronically ill family member or friend who has hurt me?

Am I allowed to rebuke them?

And is it right to tell other people?

Q1. Are we allowed to yell at someone who is sick?

Anger brings a delicious freedom.

It allows us to feel that we are “within our rights” (whatever that means!) to say exactly what we think.

It seems to give us license to bring up past issues, to tell someone exactly what we think about them, what they ought to do (or not do), and precisely how much they have inconvenienced us.

My friends, if that is the sort of rebuking we want to do to our chronically ill family member, then the answer is no.

No, we should not rebuke them – because we shouldn’t rebuke anyone like that! It’s not loving.

On the other hand, if by rebuking we mean simply telling them that we are hurt because of them – then the answer is ‘perhaps’.

Continue reading “Why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth (even if it hurts)”

Prayer + Chronic Illness = ? (Or, why we need to make up our minds about prayer)

When I was little I used to search the chip packet for wish chips. Chips in general were rare in my household, and those double folded chips were even rarer.

When you ate them you were meant to make a wish. Like wish bones in chickens and blowing out birthday candles.

Every time I crunched a wish chip, I wished for the same thing.

I wished for my mum to be healed.

Now even if you had asked, I would have said I didn’t really believe in wishes… but I felt I had to try.

Just in case.

A lot of us think the same thing about praying for healing.
We have to try.

Just in case.
Continue reading “Prayer + Chronic Illness = ? (Or, why we need to make up our minds about prayer)”

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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Why you should use cliches when talking about chronic illness

Clichés fly thick and fast around the world of chronic illness.

Keep fighting. You’re so strong.

God has a plan.

It will turn out all right in the end.

He has his ups and downs.

Do these phrases make you wince? Does anger bubble up your throat when you hear them? Do they make you want to go on a hashtag rant on Twitter or write a Facebook essay speckled with ‘angry’ emoji?

I know the feeling.

Why we can’t get rid of clichés when we talk about chronic illness

Clichés are part of life. Some words simply fit better than other ones. And so we reuse them.

And reuse them, and reuse them…
… until they lose their meaning.

Continue reading “Why you should use cliches when talking about chronic illness”