Tag Archive | male friendships

How you can help your chronically ill friend, part 1

 Being a good friend to a chronically ill person is simply equivalent to being a loving Christian.  Unfortunately, chronic illness is often an invisible illness until it progresses to the state of absolutely life-threatening.  A dear friend of mine has undergone lung transplants twice. However, her autoimmune illness was virtually ignored by her own primary doctor and she experienced being accused of “faking” her illness or that it was “all in her head.”  She transferred to a much more proactive doctor in sheer desperation. Shockingly, she was given six months to live unless they could do a lung transplant. At this point, there were some Christians who truly owed her an apology.  Please don’t put yourself in that position with your chronically ill friend.  A few ways to be a true friend include:

  • Assume your friend is telling the truth about his/her symptoms.

  • Don’t imagine that you can cure your friend unless perhaps you are a specialist in the particular area of illness that he is experiencing.

  • Be very careful about what and how you disseminate information about your friend’s condition.

Matthew Henry on the sin of gossip:

“It is required of us that we be tender of the good name of our brethren; where we cannot speak well, we had better say nothing than speak evil; we must not take pleasure in making known the faults of others, divulging things that are secret, merely to expose them, nor in making more of their known faults than really they deserve, and, least of all, in making false stories, and spreading things concerning them of which they are altogether innocent. What is this but to raise the hatred and encourage the persecutions of the world, against those who are engaged in the same interests with ourselves, and therefore with whom we ourselves must stand or fall? Consider you are brethren.”

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A Friend Who sticks closer than a brother…

I have a brother who is lost to me at this moment. Though as far as I know, he is still alive. I cannot call or e-mail him. Every card or letter I send never gets a response in kind. I cannot even confirm he is still at the current address. Given our financial circumstances, I cannot even hire a private eye to find him.  As far as I know, I have never so wounded him as to elicit this sort of cold shoulder. He shuns our entire side of the family. It wounds me deeply, but I keep his photo on my dresser as a reminder to pray.  While there is life, there is hope.

Family and friends, including myself in the equation, are prone to be fickle. So many chronically ill men have trouble maintaining lasting friendships. I am very, very grateful that my husband has a couple long-term friends who regularly call or e-mail him. Since much of the male psyche revolves around their God-given role as provider, it is difficult for him to relate to men even in our church. Conversations among men springboard from work-related topics.  For those who do not know, or just cannot understand my husband’s illnesses, there is a natural stigma involved with his inability to work.  “But you look so good!” This phrase is very, very familiar to those of us with chronic invisible illnesses.  Rest Ministries.org has documented this very well , as well as their sister web-site, http://www.invisibleillness.com.

Sigh! It does indeed take a very patient, caring male to befriend someone who is chronically ill. We wives have enough trouble with our patience levels, and we understand what our husbands’ struggles are more than anyone on earth. Thus, the verse in Proverbs speaks poignantly to this issue, “there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ( I need to look up the reference for you next time…). When my husband mourns the loss of social contact and the awkwardness in relating to other “normal” men, here is where I can encourage him with profound hope.  So many promises speak to the poor, needy, and seemingly forsaken.  “I will never leave you , nor forsake you.” I will hopefully send some more promises your way soon.  A blessed evening to you…