One of the biggest hits I had to deal with in being so sick was in my relationships with other people. Actually, it’s probably one of the areas with most adjustment, at least right now. It was just so hard to find the energy to spend on people, and more than that, hard to find people who would spend time with a sick person! Mostly I spoke to people on line, and didn’t see people in real life, except my husband.
Even then, it was different – not able to do things with him any more, even reading and playing games became impossible most of the time. My favourite thing was our “dates”, cuddled on the sofa watching whatever we could find online that seemed interesting to us both, but it felt so small compared to before. Now, we’re having to change it all up again, and that’s hard too. We grew out of the habit of doing things together, and we have to relearn it. Our hobbies have diverged a bit, and we’ve both become more used to doing things alone again, but we can do things alone, together, and even that’s so much better than him doing things whilst I rested. It needs more work, but relationships always take work. This one is the best I have and I mean to keep it that way. I mean to make it even better.
There are so many different people; people I spent so much time with online, and suddenly I don’t have so much time/energy to devote there any more; people who I was just getting to know, who I can suddenly spend time with ‘normally’; people I became very close to and can now develop that friendship more; people who were constant and still are constant, who cried with me when I cried and now get to rejoice in my rejoicing. I’m grateful for them all, and want to be there for them too. Each type of relationship is adjusting I think, in different ways, because so much of my life has changed. It’s inevitable, it’s hard to get my head around it all, but it’s good.
The hardest relationships to adjust to though, have been with the people who weren’t there, but now are. The people who disappeared but, for one reason or another, are now back in my life. It’s honestly really difficult to know what to do.
I’m in two minds about about writing about this bit, because it might be seen as condemning or judging. But in the end I’m saying this, not to condemn people, please don’t take it in a spirit of condemnation, but because I want to be honest about all these things I’m feeling and facing. Because if I’m feeling it, someone else might be too, and they might need to hear that they aren’t alone, and these feelings are valid.
I’ve had people look me in the eye and tell me straight out that they knew I was terribly ill and are glad I’m better… no apology for abandoning me, for the broken promises and the empty words they often gave me, just happiness that I’m better now. How do you deal with that?
Most people though don’t comment. They’re pleased I’m better, they don’t mention how they acted when I wasn’t. A few people seemed a bit awkward, but nothing was said. These ones are difficult to deal with, too.
Part of me sometimes wants to scream, don’t you know what you put me through? Another part of me wants to run away, change church, change city, never face them again. Part of me wants to tell them. Part of me wants to pretend it doesn’t happen, so there’s no conflict.
The part of me I’m listening to, though, says this: What they did to you, is nothing, nothing, compared to what you did to God. And did he condemn you? Did he send you away? When you deliberately hurt him over and over for no reason other than your own selfishness, did he rage at you or run away or refuse to associate with you? No. He knew it was wrong, and put the punishment on himself. He said it was wrong and forgave you anyway. How much more should you forgive these people who he is also willing to forgive?
Moreover, he who saved you from death and then saved you from being bedbound for the rest of your life on top of that, loves these people, really really loves them, and wants you to love them too. He commanded you to love them, in fact. He didn’t say they wouldn’t hurt you, and if they do then that’s their problem; your problem is to love them, and treat them with grace.
You gave up any rights to hold grudges or to condemn when you accepted God’s gift to not hold grudges against you or condemn you – and isn’t that more than a fair trade? Isn’t that super brilliant in your favour, even if it’s hard?
Yes, it is.
So my plan is grace. My “dealing with it”, is grace. It’s hard, of course it’s hard, but it’s the absolute best thing I can be doing. I’m not even sure how I’m doing it – it’s probably all God. I’m not saying I will tolerate evil or accept the status quo as okay – I absolutely won’t, because that is in no way love, but neither is condemning people for what they’ve already done and refusing to forgive. I want to change things, not dwell on the past; I want to treat people with the same grace I received, and move forward so that maybe next time, we’ll do better.
So that brings me to the third group of people – the smallest and the best – the ones who come up to me and say “I’m sorry”. The ones who say they knew I was hurting, and they knew they did nothing, and they know it’s not okay. The ones who take that step to repair the relationship themselves.
And the way I deal with that is generally by crying a bit, and hugging them, and telling them they made my day.