Each of us has unique struggles as we walk through this life. Few of us are free from the challenges. Taking care of my husband while he continued to decline due to his neurological disease was one of those very difficult and challenging experiences that I faced. For over four and a half years my husband continued to decline due to this disease, and he became increasingly dependent on me until his death on January 2, 2011.
I journaled the following words while I was caring for my husband:
“Lord, give me grace and strength for this role. Lord, others do not really begin to understand what I am going through, but You do, Lord. Thank You for that, Lord. I guess I don’t fully understand what others are going through either. Be with them also in their unique struggles. I am sure I do not fully understand what even my husband is going through.”
The challenges of caregiving can be intense. As a caregiver one can feel so alone. Only a fellow caregiver can begin to understand the intensity of the emotions that accompany caring for a loved one who has an incurable disease. As a caregiver sometimes people would say things to me like “you are so strong, or you are a good example of perseverance in your Christian life.” This would often make me feel somewhat guilty when they would say that. I was not strong at all. Were it not for God’s grace and strength I could not have continued to persevere. I did not chose or want this role in life at all, but it is the path God that had been assigned to me. I just wanted to be a “normal” couple.
When people would say such things it not only sometimes made me feel guilty, but it also made me feel more alone. It almost gave me the feeling that I had to live up to a certain image of strength. It helped me more when people would say that they were praying for me, or if they gave me physical help.
The truth of the matter is that another human being can not possibly understand all our physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles. Only God can do that. On a later date I journaled the following:
“My Lord is always advocating for me, and He fully understands everything I am going through. Other people may not fully understand, but my Lord does. If I could only always keep that truth in the forefront of my mind, as I face the challenges of each new day.”
Dear Caregiver, others will not and can not always understand and identify with the struggles you go through daily; as you seek to care for your loved one who is ill. Know and rest assured, however, that the Lord identifies with your every need. He also cares about you deeply. He will supply you with the guidance, grace, and strength you need to meet the challenges of each new day.