As I sat sprawled out on my lawn chair during quiet moments this week during a midday break, I reflected about friends and those many I read about on blogs facing illnesses, some more debilitating than others, but nevertheless challenging. I took a moment for a silent prayer for those suffering, while thanking God for my good health – never to be taken for granted.
I thought about the photo on Facebook of my high school friend, saddened when reading the note below that said she ‘left this earth today surrounded by the love of friends’. I remember her only as a perky, joyful teenager filled with light and love. But at 57 years old, breast cancer returned for the second time, ravaging her body swiftly. I heard later she had many loved ones and caretakers by her side during her first bout of cancer, too, and that she thrived for many years. What blessings for a community to uphold this dear woman facing such a painful illness. caretakers are bright lights in the darkness of illness.
I recall another friend, her powerful presence and leadership, her icy blue eyes and beautiful ivory skin, and the envy I felt when she would speed away in her Mercedes convertible, her blond hair flowing in the breeze. How brave that she posted a photo on Facebook after chemo, her dark hair just fuzz on her head and face a greenish-yellow, with a tiny fighting gleam of hope punching through her otherwise dull and weary eyes. She’s doing great today, healthy and cancer free. She wrote to all of us who sent cards and encouragement during those early battles, how invaluable the love and care that gave her such hope and strength.
When the people of that place recognized him, they sent into all that surrounding region, and brought to him all who were sick, and they begged him that they might just touch the fringe of his garment. As many as touched it were made whole. Matthew 14:35-36
The nobleman at Capernaum cried out, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said “Go your way. Your son lives. The man believed and went his way, returning, finding at fever had left his son.”
Jesus healed the centurion’s servant lying paralyzed at home and “suffering terribly”, the epileptic, Jarius’ daughter near death, the paralytic, the man with a withered hand, the women hemorrhaging, the lepers, and Peter’s mother-in-law with a fever. Sick people came to him from all over the land, and by just touching him, they were being healed.
Today, doctors, nurses, wellness practitioners, and the thousands of unsung heroines and heroes caretaking behind closed doors, our healers today, serve with heart-felt devotion those facing difficult illnesses, surgeries, recovery from accidents, and chronic infirmaries. In communities worldwide, dedicated, compassionate individuals organize meals and prayer circles, shopping, carpooling, and companionship for thousands suffering and bedridden. These are God’s angels on earth, God’s selfless, humble servants, fine-tuning their hearts and ears to those in need, taking time to serve and care the weak and weary soldiers just trying to get through a day filled with pain, immobility, fear and incapacity, or those struck with chronic illness or disability.
My dear friend Theresa, a dedicated and compassionate patient advocate, writes: “My experience in helping my patients, family and friends facing illness has taught me the depths of power of compassionate listening. To be present completely and allow time and space for expressions of anger, sadness, frustration and fear is how the magic of healing begins. When we feel heard, without interruption, and we believe we are understood….we no longer feel alone and our mind, spirit and body are strengthened and open to a wellspring of the gifts of the healing arts.”
I often acknowledge in my thoughts and prayers, the tremendous love and care offered by healers and caretakers – God’s healing artists — however, today I dedicate this blog to you.
Let’s all take a moment to thank those serving those (far too )many facing troubling illnesses and recovery.
My friend Chris is one of these beautiful servants with a bursting heart filled with compassion, who speaks from experience. Having weathered a series of debilitating illnesses, including a double mastectomy, several surgeries and chronic illnesses, and having been comforted by God and others, she’s called now to comfort others. Her new book: Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A Woman’s Guide Toward Wellness While Recovering from Injury, Surgery, or Illness is a beacon of light and encouragement for those facing the arduous, often discouraging trials and tribulations of infirmaries.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
After experiencing numerous surgeries over the last ten years, Chris says, they “left me wounded, weary, stressed out, lonely, angry, sad, and in excruciating pain. I’ve felt the burden of allowing others to take over many duties I couldn’t carry out, while being forced to loosen the intense grip of control. I’ve struggled with attempts at mothering my kids from within the confines of my broken body, and I’ve surely felt the undeniable emotional uproar that rises with every turn. I’ve been stuck in the stillness, lamenting my limitations, and managing the pain while trying to keep perspective and find purpose in it all.”
I love forward of her book:
To my loving husband and children:
For watching me at my worst and loving me anyway.
You have seen me through various injuries, surgeries,
and illnesses, and with patience and perseverance,
you have cared for me and helped me heal.
To all the amazing women who have endured far greater
circumstances, and yet find the strength and stamina to
do life with both grace and dignity—
You are my heroines.
I am in awe of your tenacity to push through your pain
and claim each day with the vigor and vigilance it takes to
embrace what you have
and to use what you’ve got!
Chris is like an Olympic coach for women healing, while Help and Hope While You’re Healing offers hope, compassion, and practical, enthusiastic guidance. Like a cheerleader on the sidelines of dreary, fearful days, her compassionate, empathetic writing voice offers a purposeful plan in navigating emotional and mental anguish, physical pain and limitations, while gently teaching the practice of self-love, patience and receiving help during healing. For mothers and those with responsibilities to others, those superwoman who suddenly find themselves bedridden, Help and Hope While You’re Healing offers practical advice for letting go of work and family duties, identifying helpers, and check lists and charts for organizing and delegating responsibilities.
In the likely seasons of waiting, fretting, frustration, wishing things were different, and grieving and even the lack of exercise that comes with any illness or recovery from surgery, everyone needs support and encouragement. Help and Hope While You’re Healing helps put this difficult season into perspective, helping the ailing feel more empowered and accepting. It offers workbook exercises for reflection and gratitude, journaling through physical pain and emotions, and identifying needs including asking for help and learning the power of surrender.
It’s just like Chris to add icing on top — she’s just that sort of glass half-full and creative person. Help and Hope While You’re Healing also offers a surprising workbook section on dreaming your purpose and passions while in a period of healing and needed rest. It has sections on prayer and deepening one’s spiritual practices with relevant scripture and exercises initiating meaningful conversations with God. Poetry, sprinkled throughout this important book never-ceases to inspire meaning in such hardship.
Who says recovering from an illness needs always to be difficult? If you’re a caregiver, I encourage you to consider giving Help and Hope While You’re Healing to someone in need. If you’re facing illness, consider giving yourself this gift of hope and inspiration. This book is a invaluable, hands-on inspirational tool bringing meaning to anyone in a healing process! It’s bound to be as popular as The Artist’s Way Workbook is for creative artists. It truly is a book that honors the art of healing.
Reach out to someone facing illness or recovering from surgery or an accident — and do consider this week appreciating a caretaker you know! I know several, and I love them dearly — always in awe of their selfless serving.