Does explaining a complex health situation to friends and family ever feel exhausting, frustrating, and seemingly futile to you?
I’ve seen quite a few posts on social media where this is attempted. Sharing needs publicly sometimes is a wonderful thing. Outpourings of love and sympathy truly do uplift the one suffering. Social media can be used as an avenue to share Christian love and community.
What if even one fact gets twisted or blown out of proportion?
Many of us do not want to live our lives like we are on reality TV.
Truth. When we received the initial diagnosis (first of four autoimmune disease diagnoses) of rheumatoid arthritis, half of our friends and family couldn’t even get that straight. They forgot. Not only that, some shared misinformation with others, church family included.
What they remembered was the blanket of “fibromyalgia”. Some medical gurus report that this is a label doctors throw at chronic pain when they can’t find the underlying cause. NOT truth. That should be another post for another day.
Some of the gossip that circled was that my husband was lazy. A wimp who couldn’t fight through the pain for his family and hold down a job. Any kind of job. Even working at McDonalds would be better than not working at all.
The truth was, they didn’t have all the facts needed to make this judgement, righteous though it seemed.
What they didn’t get was the gut issues that were also a huge issue. McDonalds or any job involving food smells and lengthy time on the feet was an impossible solution.
With so many details to explain that we just started saying, “It’s complicated”. It was and is too hard to explain. The health issues have not simplified. They have become increasingly complex.
Indeed, the human body is complicated and complex.
There is nothing simple, nothing “cut-and-dried” about it.
Truthfully, as the primary caregiver, I have struggled at times with my own levels of compassion and understanding for this complex individual that even I cannot fully understand!
I’m the only one, however, who has the both the tree and the forest view. Even the doctors have not seen and walked in my husband’s daily shoes.
I’m the closest family member who has seen the long-term unfolding of these health issues as well as the close-up daily impact of these problems. Of all people on the earth, I need to be the most compassionate and understanding.
When friends have complained to me about their selfish or foolish “normal” husbands, I’ve wanted to say, “Don’t you get it? You are so blessed. You have someone who at least pays the bills and tries to take care of you, however imperfectly.”
However, I was wrong. Her tears matter to Jesus, too!
Caring about the problems any Christian sister faces with her marriage are just as real and important as the problems I face. The huge differences in our situations should not hold back our mutual love and concern.
Caring deeply for one another in Christ’s love is a two-way street.
It’s a life-giving road that God requires His true disciples to walk down. There is no escaping the repeated commands of Christ to love one another. Tender compassion for one another is a sign — a mark of a true believer. NO matter if we don’t and can’t completely understand another’s situation, we should always err on the side of grace.
You cannot give this type of compassion if you’ve never seen or received it.
I have a close family member who seems almost utterly incapable of giving or receiving gracious love. It’s caused a great deal of family trauma. Even though this person “preaches” the gospel, it’s hard to judge if they’ve ever fully grasped the good news for themselves.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us. ” Romans 5:8
Understanding that God loves us perfectly in Christ through no goodness or deserving of our own and accepting this holy sin sacrifice in our place is the first step toward loving others. We cannot truly love without His love.
Where do you turn when you feel utterly without human love and understanding?
When you feel alone and afraid — whom do you run to?
I’ve had this experience lately. If I try to explain our complex health situation, I leave out some important fact or detail. Misunderstanding follows. I try to detangle that. It may or may not work. I can see how the Salem Witch Trials were started.
I’ve met a few others with extremely complex health scenarios lately. None of their doctors can figure everything out, though it seems they are trying hard. Friends and loved ones are struggling to understand.
It’s gut-wrenching. It’s frightening. It feels so crazy and lonely! No one wants to walk this road. Yet, somehow, we are called to walk in community together. How?
Remember the LORD Your Maker! The One who made and fashioned you understands you completely.
“You know me completely.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret,
and intricately put together in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed,
yet in Your book all my days were written,
before any of them came into being.” Psalm 139: 14-16
This includes your loved one whose body is totally out of whack! He or she is seen, known, and cared for by their Maker.
If we don’t believe this, how pro-life are we?
The fall of man and the curse of sin is the first explanation that we can reach for when we just cannot understand what is going on!
” We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Not only that, but we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves while eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23
It makes sense. This world is not evolving to greater goodness and wholeness. In fact, the brokenness becomes more clear and evident each day we wake up and turn on the news.
Walk the halls of any hospital for days, like I did this past week, and you will see incredible human brokenness on every hand. We try to buff and polish it. We try to hide the pain and suffering, just like we do with death in our culture.
Death and suffering can only be hidden for so long. These enemies are reality. They are ugly.
I heard a top oncologist who has practiced for many years at the renowned John Hopkins Hospital speak at a cancer fundraiser a few short years ago. He blatantly said that our treatments for many types of cancer are still dismally ineffective. There is still so much even the best doctors do not understand about treating their patients.
This is also true of many, many chronic health conditions and genetic defects.
There is One whose understanding and compassion cannot fail.
His redemptive plan is right on track. His kingdom will come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.