Being a Caregiver

I debated about this title when I started this post, and I might change it before finishing, but right now, the title will stay. What image comes to mind when you read the words? For most of us, these words entail someone who is taking care of someone who is no longer able to work. Someone who has one of a myriad of diseases which renders them incapable of living a life we would consider “normal”. Diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia…the list goes on, but I think you get the point.

But, there’s another definition of caregiver. I’ve spoken of this before. It’s taking care of someone who has a chronic condition, but is still able to work. There are days when things are okay, and life is rocking along like it does for the people who have no concerns in this area. And then there are days when things are not okay. Days when a family member is not able to do something because he has given all he has to give. Days when he has to save his energy for what is absolutely necessary and nothing else. And those are the days that hurt–when I appear in public by myself and pretend like everything is okay when it’s not, or when I break down, and people are uncomfortable because I have broken down. I can’t win either way so sometimes, I don’t want to try. I stay at home licking my wounds until I get the courage to try again.

I know it’s confusing to people because of the days that are okay. Days when the family member can give. Days when the family member accepts requests that maybe are unwise, but he feels okay at that moment so he wants to do it. He wants to give instead of having to receive so I bite my tongue, and we walk along until the next crisis.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m okay. The concerns, the worries always lurk beneath the surface. I can’t prevent it. I don’t think anyone could. I must do a pretty good job of pretending though. The other night someone said I do a good job of being a caregiver. The look of disbelief must have shown on my face because she said it was a compliment. I mumbled my way through an answer thinking if she only knew…because there are many days I don’t manage well. Days I have to marshal my own energy reserves to meet the obligations of the next day. Days when I’m just tired and discouraged because something else has gone wrong.

When that happens, I do my best to go back to the well. The well of my Lord and Savior’s living water. The water that never gives out. His water gives me the courage to keep going, the courage to keep giving even when I don’t want to, and the courage to find joy in the little moments. He even gives me the courage to pretend nothing is wrong with me so I can give encouragement to someone else. God is good for that. Jesus, too. There are days when I hang onto God with all my might as I walk through the storms of life.

Depending on God doesn’t mean I don’t need encouragement from someone with a voice and arms. The church, in case you’re wondering. We were created to be the hands and feet of Jesus and the voices and arms too. There are people who have the gift of encouragement, and there are people who well, you can tell they’d rather be somewhere else when you’re talking with them. We all fail in this area, including me. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though because even if we do encourage imperfectly, it is the start of what Jesus wants us to do as believers while we are still in this world. He doesn’t want us to type a Facebook status in support of something. He wants us to Be His hands; Be His feet; Be His voice; and Be His arms. In other words, Be Jesus to a hurting world!

Praying God’s blessings on all of you today!

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