Chronic Comment-tators

Recently, and not for the first time either, I was grilled by a church member about my husband’s health. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say they were making well-meaning inquiries.  However, the specifity of the questioning, such as — “how many hours is he in pain a day?” — followed by the comment, “but he looks so good” (which many, many chronically ill people hear with great frequency), gave me reason to doubt his motives.  This man was digging for information and not making a helpful inquiry.  It has happened before. It will happen again.

Walking around your church are chronically ill friends. Unlike a cancer diagnosis, symptoms may be confusing and irregular.  Autoimmune diseases can go into temporary remission and lay low for a while. Or a treatment may provide regular relief. But individuals are like snowflakes with no two alike.  And sometimes, even their disease can behave differently for a time.  What you as a friend need to do is listen, pray, and believe your friend when they tell you they have miserable pain or their immune system is really wiped out at the time.

Don’t be a chronic “investigator” or “commentator”.  While you may hear of a potentially helpful treatment, feel free to mention it. Please don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t choose to try it. You have no idea how many treatments or diet plans they have tried in the past, and it is NOT your job to make sure they try yours.

While a chronically ill friend may look good, be assured they went to special effort to do so.  My husband loads up on pain meds to be able to travel and fellowship with our church family, and especially to enjoy the means of grace.  I do most of the driving so that he can relax and try to enjoy the day.  He is a people person and is enlivened by great fellowship.  I am the one who gets to see his “poopy” side and the crashes that often happen after travels.

As the wife of a chronically ill husband, I do not want to have to deal with detailed questions from people who are not my closest friends.  Most often I will answer general questions generally. I very much appreciate those who do ask how we are doing and quite simply state they are praying for us.

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7 thoughts on “Chronic Comment-tators

  1. Wow!!!! I tear up reading this! I feel you sister. My husband has Chronic Fatigue and it can be so challenging for me to know how to love him well. Do you have any resources that can help with this journey!? Thank you for your post

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    • Amanda,
      The very reason I started this blog was because I found very, very little in the way of encouragement in Christ’s body for the woman with a chronically ill husband. In fact, I have often felt like a “leper”, but am working to overcome that. Thankfully, there are some dear sisters who love me anyways even though they cannot possibly understand my situation. I am currently working on a book for wives with chronically ill husbands which I hope will offer resources and encouragement. I have not kept up with my blog as well I meant to, due to pressures financially and physically. With all the PTSD out there now, I can imagine there is a growing number of women who need encouragement to keep their marriage covenants, too. For right now, I will try to offer some basic books that encourage anyone who is suffering: The Suffering of Man and the Sovereignty of God, by Charles Spurgeon. Where Is God When It Hurts, by Phillip Keller, Beyond Suffering by Layton Talbert are a few to start with…Praying for you right now, Amanda.

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      • Thank you! I would love information on your book when it is ready for purchase! Thank you for putting your story out there! It makes the journey feel a little less lonely!

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      • Thank you, Amanda! I haven’t blogged in too long, and you have spurred me on to continue in well-doing. I know being the spouse of a chronically ill husband is often a very lonely journey. Due to very extenuating circumstances both in my personal family and my extended family, I had laid aside all writing projects. Hopefully I can be more productive soon, by God’s grace.

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  2. Wow! I really needed to read this today. Church used to be a haven and now I dread it because of the “grilling”. If Im not “grilled”, Im ignored. Thank you for your transparency.

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    • Or we are approached with new remedies we really ought to try. I feel like asking, “So, are you going to fund this for at least 3 to 6 months for us, to see if it really will work?” It is disheartening, BUT we all need to give and receive God’s grace in Christ. I am trying to make it my mission to see whom I might encourage each time I am at church.

      Keep forgiving, as Christ has forgiven us. Each day is a gift, better than I deserve! And keep crying out to God in these times when you desperately need His encouragement to do keep carrying such a heavy load. Hugs…

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