Nature’s storms can come in many forms. Some storms come completely unexpectedly. Some storms are predicted ahead of time by our local weather man. The storms of life can also come in many forms. Sometimes we know a storm of life is brewing on the horizon. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly. Either way we usually cannot choose our life’s circumstances. We do have a choice, however, in our responses to life’s storms.
I was not prepared for the “storm” of my husband’s diagnosis of a devastating neurological disease called multiple systems atrophy type c in 2006 followed by my own diagnosis of breast cancer in 2007. I am thankful to report that today I am a four year survivor of breast cancer. The same was not true for my husband, Wayne, however. For over four years I saw his continual decline downwards until his death in January of 2011.
In 2009 over two years after my husband’s diagnosis I wrote the following words:
“Caregiving like the weather always has its ups and downs. Some days feel stormy, and on those days I feel I can’t do it anymore. On other days life tends to take on a certain rhythm and pattern and is workable. Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows. I am joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I am thankful that I know He is always with me. It is difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I am happy that the struggles of life are making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person. I struggle with the fact, however, that it sometimes has to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wonder why life has to be so difficult.”
One of the things the storms of the heartache and pains of caregiving taught me is that I could not and can not rely on my own strength. Hence, in the pain and losses of my life God was and is trying to teach me that I really am not in control of anything.
I think this is an especially hard lesson for a caregiver to learn. This is because caregivers are constantly “fighting” for the best health and well-being of their loved ones. This need to try to control and do it in our own strength has to be offered up to God on the altar of surrender, however; if we are going to be strong in the storms of life.
During caregiving and even now the Lord was and is also trying to teach me that concentrating on the pain and heartaches of the storms of life often can blind us to the rainbow of the Lord’s presence in our lives. We have to look for the wonders and workings of God in our lives. We have to look for His presence. Out of the heartache and brokenness He can make something beautiful in His perfect timing.
Dear Christian caregiver, the storms of caregiving and life in general can be very brutal and even devastating. Know that the Lord has the answers when you don’t. Know that He is with you each step of the way. Know that He is in control, and He is very present in your life and in the life of your loved one. Finally, know that He sees your stormy days, and is loving you through the storms of caregiving.