Yesterday, I spoke on a very important topic – understanding invisible illness. Essentially, that sums up what Invisible Illness week is all about – raising awareness to help others (doctors and loved ones, alike) understand the struggles of those who face invisible illnesses.
It is important for us to understand others’ pain, and be there for them. It isn’t enough to simply understand their suffering. We need to put that knowledge, that understanding, into action. This is where support comes in.
You may not consider what you have to offer as adequate. I understand that as an outsider to others’ suffering. I also want to encourage you “as an insider” to step up and find ways to support your loved ones – anyway. Because they need you! Your actions aren’t a waste. They desperately need you – to continue fighting and being encouraged!
The Bible talks about faith without works is dead (see James 2:14-26). Useless. Likewise, our understanding of our loved ones’ suffering is useless if we do nothing to support them.
Part Two – Support
These are very practical ways to be involved. In these suggestions, In addition to offering prayer and spiritual support, I am choosing to include: checking on our friends, sending them a card, or a gift.
Pray for Them
Begin making it a daily commitment to pray for your friend and their struggles. Begin asking them for specific ways you can pray for them. Then as part of your prayer support, check with them every week to see how they are doing – and what else they need prayer for. If they are a Christian (and you are), pray about if God would have you visit them in their home for a small Bible study (one-on-one).
Technology makes it ridiculously easy to get connected with people. Most of us, have a phone (meaning texting or phone calls) or a social media/email account. Use these things to be there for your friends. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Go directly to them.
The Fears –
Maybe, you fear they will complain for the bulk of the conversation. You are only providing an opportunity to show them you are there for them in a tangible way! Don’t over-think it. If you know they are on social media, and often, just consider using it to check on them. Show them you are there for them.
The Joys –
They will appreciate their relationship with you, when they see you care. Use their love language, to show them support. They will feel loved. They will feel comforted. They will feel supported in the most amazing ways.
What to Say?
I always wonder about this one too. What am I supposed to say? The initiation to gain entrance into their world counts. You are showing them that you care. In yesterday’s post, I address what kind of questions we can ask sufferers. A few more suggestions include: asking them how they are doing, if they have read or watched anything good lately, and just begin a conversation. Asking questions are your friend. Don’t assume. Just let God lead you. Asking questions is a great conversation starter.
Support – Giving Gifts
First, there is sending a card in the mail. It doesn’t need to be extravagant. It’s just a method of letting them know you care and brightening their day. Here’s an example of what you could say… “Hey __________________, I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you. I wanted to let you know that though I don’t say it often, I deeply care for you. I don’t know what to say sometimes, but I am here.” Something like that. My example might be more personal, than you would write (I am always socially awkward anyway, so might as well say what I feel, right?).
Second, give them a gift. With invisible illness, it can be hard to know what to get someone. I have some ideas to share. Tangible ways to show them you care.
- A lamp. I am thinking practically. Maybe, they don’t have access to an overhead light in their bedroom. A lamp would help them to move around in their bedroom, when perhaps their vision isn’t the best, and without falling on their face.
- A blanket. Think about it. People with invisible illness(es) face times of resting. More time than you would ever dream of. Gifting something like a blanket is something would bring a smile to their face – not just for a moment, but many moments.
- A gift card. This is itself is a blessing, but you can take it a step further – to be more involved in their gift. Handpicking something declares “I love you. I care for you. I am here for you.” Maybe if they take supplements for their condition, offer to buy them their next month’s supply. Many gift ideas for this one. Here’s one in particular- Perhaps, offering to take them on a mini shopping spree. You could give them a gift card, and then offer to buy them lunch (or skip lunch) and go straight for their favorite store.
If you are tight money-wise, consider making them a gift or performing a service for them (clean house, run errands, take their crazy kids for an afternoon, make them dinner if their food restrictions aren’t crazy long, etc). This speaks volumes, too!