Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Loving a Lymie

on May 28, 2016

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It’s not easy loving a lymie, or anyone with chronic illness actually. It’s not that it’s hard to love the person. Many times you’ve known them and loved them long before they got sick. What’s hard is when God calls you to come alongside someone who is ill and is likely to remain ill for the rest of their life (aside from a miraculous healing…always a possibility). It’s tough and I’ll tell you why.

Whether it’s a friend, a family member or someone from your church, you probably know someone with some sort of chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, Lyme Disease or even something that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. If you’re my friend, you know me! If you’re not already aware, I have chronic lyme disease and have been sick for going on six years now (though the past 18 months has been by far the worst).

It’s not an easy path when God calls you to support and love someone who is always sick for many reasons. Here are a few for you to ponder and perhaps pray about:

  1. The Long Haul

Chronic illness is, by definition, a lifelong problem. Unless God heals it miraculously, a person who is chronically ill is likely to be sick throughout their life on earth. Why does that make them hard to help? Because they ALWAYS need help. It’s not quite the same as bringing a meal to someone who has the flu or cleaning someone’s house after they just had a baby. When you’re called to serve someone with chronic lyme or another illness, there is no end in sight. We are “needy” for the long haul. It’s hard on our friends and family, and it’s so very hard on us. Believe me, we don’t want to feel like a burden. We don’t want to ask for help over and over.  We really don’t want to be so keenly aware that we will suffer like this for the rest of our lives. Still, Christ gives us assured hope that this pain and sickness, while it may last for the duration of earthly life, will be healed when we are with Him. So we press on.

  1. Chronic Illness is Boring

If you knew me before I was sick, you know that I was a very active person. I have a big personality, some would say. I love to laugh and have fun and go out. Being sick really interferes with your social life. I’m blessed that I can still make it out sometimes, but more often I’m too tired and sore to leave the house much. I don’t always make it to church (which is super hard for me). I can’t go to every birthday party or concert or ministry event. When you love a lymie, you have to realize that we just aren’t as “fun” as we used to be. We can’t do what we did before. It’s hard to be friends with someone who can’t go shopping with you or come to your kids’ birthday party. Still, you can have fun with us if you come and sit with us a while. We can laugh and catch up and have a nice visit if you don’t mind us lounging around in our PJs.

  1. You Give More Than You Get

If you’re called to walk alongside someone with chronic illness, understand that you’ll probably be giving more than you receive in some ways. We may not be able to “do” acts of service for you in the way you do them for us. We may not be able to cook you meals or help clean your home or bring you coffee as often. Again, I’m blessed that I’m still able to do those things on good days. I find it absolutely delightful to do meals for people or to run errands and help out. I love that I can still do that and I’ll keep doing it until I absolutely can’t anymore. Still, for many lymies their illness has meant they are bedridden and confined to their homes. Sometimes they are attached to IV’s, trying to recover. Ultimately loving someone who is very sick means you have to give without asking for much in return. What we can always give back is love, prayer and friendship. Sometimes that has to be enough.

  1. Another Post About Lyme?

Yes, I post a lot about lyme disease. Some people post a lot about fibromyalgia or MS. Why do we do that? There are several reasons. When it comes to lyme disease, people generally know so little about it…even in the medical community. We are always trying to raise awareness. We also share because we often feel lonely in our illness. We are aware that people don’t usually understand what we’re going through or how sick this disease makes us, and we have a strong desire for our friends and family to understand. Sometimes we post because we really need prayer or because we’re having a particularly bad day and need help but are too prideful or shy to just come out and ask for help. When you love a lymie, you may have to deal with reading posts or hearing us talk about our illness. It may seem boring to you or redundant, but it’s what is happening in our lives. If you ask how we are, our first response will usually be about being sick because it affects every area of our lives. Please be patient with us. Loving an ill person means you should take an interest in learning about our illness, reading our sometimes subtle pleas for help and offering us lots of grace.

  1. Love Bears All Things

Love bears all things and endures all things and believes all things. Love never fails. Loving the chronically ill is not an easy road. I can tell you that having chronic lyme has affected many of my friendships. I have often felt alone, misunderstood and that others don’t believe how sick I am because we don’t always look sick on the outside. Lyme Disease beats a person up physically, emotionally, financially and sometimes spiritually. We have a hard time finding a doctor to help. Treatment makes us sick and often leads to bankruptcy.  It’s so very hard, my friends.  I’ve been blessed to have one friend from church who checks in on me consistently and offers to bring meals and groceries (thanks Anna!!!) and also several good friends locally who have surprised us with meals, offered to help around the house and even brought me coffee ! I’ve also had some amazing people in my life help with the cost if treatment.  I appreciate you all more than words can say. Loving someone with lyme is not easy, but true love bears all things.

Loving someone with chronic illness is a burden, but it can also be a blessing. I believe truly that we, The Church, are called to love and serve one another in a real, daily life kind of way. I believed it before I was sick and I believe it now. Jesus sacrificed everything for us on the cross, but before that He also took on the position of the most humble servant in the house and washed feet. He ministered to crowds to the point of exhaustion. He wept over the death of Lazarus with great compassion, even though He knew He would raise him from the dead. Jesus served people fervently. He gave all of Himself and that’s what we are supposed to be doing. I will keep doing it until I have no more strength left. Now I need to work on being willing to receive from others that love and support in my illness, putting pride aside.

So there it is friends. It’s difficult to love someone who is always sick, who can’t give much back in return, who isn’t quite as fun anymore and who goes on and on about the new research coming out about their illness. I get it. I see that it’s hard, but if God calls you to love that person, then He will give you the strength, the wisdom and the courage to really love and serve them. Honestly, I think it’s something we are called to do. The Church needs to do this. This is how The Church is supposed to function. Yes, it means sacrifice. Yes, it’s often inconvenient. Yes, it’s also a blessing.

Sick as a dog via photopin (license)

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3 responses to “Loving a Lymie

  1. Valeri Barnes says:

    One of your best, Chelsea! Everyone does need to educate themselves on Lyme—for all the reasons you’ve stated, but also because it’s a much bigger problem than most know. More people most likely have Lyme that don’t realize it or have been misdiagnosed. It behooves us all to get more information. But, most importantly, to love and serve, with understanding and grace, what you and your fellow Lymies are going through. I love you so much! I’m so proud of you!
    ~Mom

  2. […] wife wrote a beautiful blog of the same name at the following link (Keeper ministries) and I am not going to repeat much of what she said, she is a much more powerful written and oral […]

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