My husband and I are on vacation this week, at the same time of year as our “vacation” in 2013. Last year my mother had just been placed under Hospice care, and our journey to the final leg of her race was just beginning. I had already been very active in her care, being I was the only one of my siblings who lived locally. I needed to get out.of.town, there by compelling my mother’s other caregivers to find other ways to handle the issues that arose. I was beginning to buckle under the weight of what was ahead of me.
Early in November, you would have expected us to head for the mountains, to see the beautiful fall foliage. No, we were at the coast, right on the ocean where we could personally witness God’s majesty.
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty. Psalm 93:4
This verse has always been nourishment to my soul, especially when I feel weary, usually because I am attempting to accomplish all things in my own strength. Invariably when these feelings arise, I have allowed several days to pass without spending time with The Lord. Every time.
What does this speak to me?
- First of all, it places my frailty on display. In my pride, that’s a bad thing. I want to be strong and want others to know I am strong enough to handle this! I can’t.
- Secondly, The Lord is MIGHTY! The following verse is one that I had heard so many times in my life, it had become commonplace. When I was in that caregiving role, this verse came ALIVE. I had to ACCEPT that I was weak and that in my weakness, HIS strength would be on display. Isn’t that the point, for the glory to go to the Lord? But until you are in a situation when you have to totally depend on God for the strength to get through each day, you will likely take that verse for granted as well.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Cor. 12:9
During that time, I was taking part in a Bible study on the life of Gideon, written by Priscilla Shirer, the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans. God had perfectly orchestrated my life to the point that this study lined up with the time I needed it the most. I would highly recommend it, regardless of your current situation, but especially if you are struggling with allowing God to be your strength. I felt God’s presence in a way I never had before, even though there were times I had neglected spending time with Him for several days. When I realized again WHY I was struggling, He met me where I was and the next lesson was perfectly suited for the struggle of that very day. There were times it just about gave me chills!
If you are in the role of caregiver right now, let me present you with a few suggestions.
- There is nothing more important than your walk with the Lord at this time. This should always be the case, right? How often do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the busyness of each day as a caregiver? Feedings, baths, walks, toileting, medications…just a few of the daily physical obligations. Add to that the emotional strain when your loved one is battling hallucinations, delusions, grief, loss of independence, physical pain, and fear.
- Begin each day by literally giving the day to Him. This is the day that HE has made. You CAN rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). Not only are you there to minister to your loved ones, you are HERE to give glory to the Lord. Acknowledge your willingness to do HIS will each day, not your own. Be willing to set aside your own plans, because there WILL be days that will not go according to your schedule.
- Spend time in His Word daily. It IS the daily nourishment you need to handle the tasks of the day, and as important as the food you eat for breakfast. If you do not have a well built habit of reading your Bible, obtain a good Bible study that will keep you in the Word. I don’t mean a book that will give you the author’s views on a certain issue. You need to be grounded in HIS Word, not theirs. Ask for recommendations from those you trust in the body of Christ.
- Be creative! If you are struggling with the TIME to get in the Word, here are some ideas. If someone comes to visit your loved one, grab a few minutes alone with God in the next room. Catch a few minutes while they are napping. If they are willing, take up some time WITH your loved one by reading the passage you are studying TO them. Play the Bible on CD. Not only will you be filling your mind with the Word, but you will be filling the mind of your loved one as well. Play praise music in the room to lift the spirits of all within earshot. There are lots of ways. Sometimes we only need to be reminded of them.
- Have accountability with a godly friend or family member. Ask them to keep up with you and your daily walk. Allow them to ask you the difficult questions. Have them pray for you, and with you. Knowing you will be answering to another person will help you remain diligent.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things important to your spiritual life while you are ministering to those you love in one of the most spiritually draining times of your life. But having been where you are, and probably will be again, please take these things to heart.
Lastly, I want you to know that I am available to you. If you have questions, comments, or need encouragement, please contact me. We are to encourage others as we were encouraged through our own difficult times. I feel God calling me to be that encouragement through my life to those local to me and through this blog to those who aren’t.
Tomorrow I will look at how we must care for our physical needs to ensure we can continue to care for others.
Featured Image courtesy of Savio Sebastian.