Growing up I was very aware that if I had a day off school ill, then I was not able to do any of the things that I used to do outside of school, whether that was Brownies/Guides, Swimming, Music lessons or Church Youth group. It’s still something I struggle with today – especially if I have a day off on a Friday – does that mean I’m not allowed to do anything over the weekend?
This all changed when I was in year 11, I was very ill at the beginning of the year, and had to have nearly an entire term off school. I was receiving lessons at home, but I wasn’t actually going to school. However, my mum forced me to go out. She arranged things with my friends, and told me what I was doing! Why did she do this? She was worried that if I stayed at home on my own, that I would just get worse, and recognised the importance of keeping up my relationships with my friends. I think there was also the recognition that by spending time with my friends I could ‘escape’ the illness. When I was with my friends we would spend time talking about the silliness that was happening at school, I would be finding out about all the gossip, I definitely wasn’t thinking about being ill.
The thought this week carries on looking at acts of mercy “When I was sick you visited me” with the quote coming from an anonymous source
“When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’, even illness becomes wellness”
I know that I always felt a lot better after I had spent time with my friends. It didn’t cure me, I still needed the medical advice and support, but I did feel better. Illness can be a very solitary thing, and to know that there is love and support from friends and family makes all the differences. This is why the work of hospital Chaplains is so important, they are able to visit those who do not have anyone to visit them.
Afterall, sickness isn’t always visible, there are many who are unwell, but they don’t have a plaster cast or crutches to show everyone else that they are unwell. We cannot make assumptions about people. Everyone deserves to have someone around them.
So what can we do? We can show love and compassion. Even if there is no way to visit those who are ill, we can send a text to show that we are thinking of them. It’s about being aware, and reacting to the need that is there. Sometimes just knowing that you haven’t been forgotten is enough to keep you going when things seem tough. I have learnt how important it is to have people around you when you are ill. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in that situation.
Challenge: Think about someone you know who has a long term illness, think about a way in which you can show them that you are thinking of them.
Prayer: We thank you God, that you are a God of love and compassion. Help us to show that love and compassion to those around us. Amen