Can I be totally, completely and unabashedly honest?
This is hard. Knock the wind out of you, face turning blue, gasping for air kind of hard. I wish I could somehow put into words the heaviness of caring for your aging parents. The word caregiver sounds so fuzzy warm and wonderful. Shiny, happy, I love you so I’m sacrificing everything to give you what you need kind of wonderful. But it’s really O God have mercy, I don’t know how much longer I can do this, please give me eight tentacles, the energy of a toddler and plug up the hole in my head that’s leaking out whatever sanity I have left.
It’s watching your parents grow frail and missing the words your Father can no longer recall. It’s giving him all the dignity he deserves and letting his confused eyes look into yours while you’re trying to literally will into his heart all the love he needs to feel right now because the simple tasks of dressing, eating and making conversation aren’t so simple anymore. It’s trying to be his rock when all your life, he’s been yours.
Yes, I have meltdowns. But like all of us, there comes a time when I must wipe away the tears, take a deep breath and get back in there. But how exactly do you do that? What do you rely upon to put you back together when you feel like the Scarecrow of Oz and your straw is scattered all over the place?
After seven years of caregiving, I’ll tell you how I do it.
Have you ever broken a promise? We all have. Maybe we didn’t intend to break it but circumstances arose so that we couldn’t keep the promise we made. Well, there is One who has never broken a promise. Ever. And because of who He is and what He has promised, I can be made whole again.
Since I have accepted God’s gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, that makes me His daughter. There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. And because He keeps every one of them, I can take them to the bank. I can have a meltdown, cry myself into a puddle and then take hold of His life-changing promises to put me back together.
- I don’t have to muster up my own strength. He gives me His strength. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.” Psalm 28:7
- I don’t have to manufacture some sort of peace within myself or turn to a substance. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” Isaiah 26:3
- I don’t have to give in to the depression that tries to overwhelm me and steal my peace and joy. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
- I don’t have to fear when the demands of being a caregiver take a toll on my health. “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5
I’m not perfect. There are even times I want to quit. And there are times I get so overwhelmed that it takes me awhile to remember the promises. But I know they work. In fact, I have found nothing that can do what God can do. No relationship, no job, no adventure, no amount of money and no experience can do that. Why? Because none of those things is perfect. They may make me feel great for a while, but that kind of euphoria is temporary. I need something permanent.
I’m sure I haven’t had my last meltdown. And I’m sure I haven’t shed my last tear over all this disease has stolen from my family. But I’m also sure that every time I fall apart, God has promised never to leave me and never to forsake me. But not just to me. He’s promised the same thing to all His sons and daughters.