Only you can choose whether caregiving is a burden or a blessing!
My Story is Your Story
My life has been marked by many events. which if I am honest, made me who I am today. Life lessons abound and are interspersed with several periods of putting my plans on hold in order to care for others. During the 31 day writing challenge, I read many posts about caregiving and the journey these people traversed to get to where they are now. I am intrigued by their stories and my heart feels deeply for them. Until recently, I did not understand that the words I read are ones that mirror parts of my own story.
As I struggled to balance a two week period recently, where my dad was in the hospital and his apartment needed to be cleaned out before the end of the month, I had a conversation with one of my brothers. I voiced concerns, frustrations and finally named my struggles with these words, “I am a caregiver.” He didn’t patronize me or downplay all the feels I was feeling at that moment. He came alongside and acknowledged this truth. I had never spoken these words out loud to anyone before this.
I am blessed by a wonderful family who cares deeply for each other and willingly supports a member when needed. But, they all live out of town and when you are craving a physical presence to sit next to you in silence or in shared words, reality reminds you that you are alone. Caregiving, when alone, takes on a new level of staying strong and leaning on the one who you can always count on – God!
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Throughout my life, I have played the role of caregiver. My first experience was caring for my former husband, who endured one physical problem after another. I learned quickly that caring for young sons, as well as a husband, was a full time job. However, I already had a full time job as a teacher. I carried an “I am fine” persona with me at all times and from the outside looking in, I had it all together. I still wear a strong outer shell as a result of my years of living life through the challenges as well as the joys. This last experience with my dad is creating a softening of my heart and a deep desire to not just care for someone, but bless them with my time.
My brother spoke truth into my heart during that phone conversation and his wise words have stuck with me. He changed my perspective of caregiving by saying he looks at it as a way to serve a loved one. My attitude of trying to get it all done while remaining strong, is slowly falling apart, one piece at at time. I can choose to bless someone with the gift of time or carry the burden of feeling like my time is not my own. There is nothing easy about either choice, but God loves generosity and presence.
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
You might also be in a position of caring for someone that feels burdensome at times. God is cheering for you as you give the gift of being present. Perhaps, like me, you did not even recognize that the role you were playing was caregiving. It took me many years and one conversation with my brother to understand I was a caregiver. We need to embrace the positions God calls us to in our lives. This little blip along the road will be used for God’s glory, when we see the blessing of time that is inherent in caregiving.
I am slowly learning to bless others with a cheerful heart, knowing that my time is not really my own. We belong to God and giving of our time, serving others, or blessing all with a smile is building God’s Kingdom. A blessing that in turn blesses you more in return.
Mary Geisen is the mom of two amazing, grown sons. She is blessed to be a retired 3rd grade teacher and a woman seeking God in the ordinary routines of life. Lover of the beach, coffee and long walks outside are coupled with a love of reading. God’s story for her life blossomed into written words that begged to be shared with others and then her writing journey began. The power of God’s words has inspired her journey of healing and drawing closer to God through the power of grace.