If someone has had an illness long enough to be termed “chronic,” trust me. They have probably researched more about it than you have. They’ve probably tried all the conventional remedies and most of the unconventional ones as well. We don’t want to be told about this fix or that drug. We’ve heard it all before. We don’t usually share our struggles, but sometimes we just need to be understood or we need some help.
We don’t want to hear how we should pray more, not be so negative or that other people have it worse than we do. It might be true, but when we are in the middle of a long overdue pity party or meltdown because we are at the end of our rope hanging by a painful thread, now is NOT the time! Now is not the time for “I told you so” or “You should have…” or “I had a friend whose cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s dog’s veterinarian’s mother, tried XYZ and it did wonders for her.
When we confide in you that we are hurting, desperate, frustrated, or depressed, now is the time for compassion.
And there are three things we need and would appreciate:
- A hug– We are a lonely lot having had many of our friends and family abandon us because they didn’t know what to do for us and/or were tired of hearing how painful our lives are. We are desperately in need of a hug, to be held, comforted. We are tired of defending ourselves to our doctors and friends and family. We’re often alone because we are too tired or in pain to make it to social events.
- A prayer– As a Christian, I feel comfort when a sister or brother in Christ prays for me, but what really makes me feel God is near is when someone prays WITH me. Even if the someone you know who is hurting isn’t a Christian, it is often a gesture of great comfort. Very few nonreligious people will turn down a caring friend’s offer to pray with them. If they are not willing, you can tell them you’ll pray for them, but it’s often a source of comfort whether or not they are a believer, just to know someone cared enough to take the time.
- A listening ear– So many of us have stopped talking because, when we do, we are either dismissed, ignored, told to be more positive, or told it could be worse. Even worse, we’re told we should be doing the things they recommended we do every time we speak. People mistakenly think we tell everyone how we feel and are just not willing to do anything about it. Take their advice. Truth is we don’t tell anyone exactly how we feel. We lie and say we are fine when asked: “How are you?” We smile through the pain and we laugh and make jokes so we don’t cry. Truth be told, we feel better when someone is willing to listen without judgment and without a recipe for our medical, spiritual or emotional salvation. Once we get out what we need to say, we release it and can move on. Keeping it bottled up is what causes meltdowns.
After we have felt like we are worthy, we have people in our corner, remember that God is with us, and have had a chance to talk, we can move on to handle our next hurdle or challenge. And there WILL be others in short order.
What is something that gives you comfort when struggling with a chronic issue? Please share.