Monday, April 25, 2011

Purpose Now and for the Future

Caregiving is a purpose filled calling. It may not be recognized as such by the world at large, however. Caregivers will not usually earn medals or receive honors for what they do day in and day out. Caregiving work does not facilitate the earning of great amounts of money either. In fact just the opposite is most often true. Caregiving for a family member can be discouraging and involves sacrificial giving of one self to the person who needs one’s help. It is, however, one of the most significant and purpose filled callings God can give us.

Caregiving often involves a lot of heartache and grief, as we see our loved ones continue to move backwards in their health. In spite of this the caregiver is engaging in God’s work. Not only is caregiving filled with purpose while the caregiver is in the midst of the responsibilities of caregiving, however, but this phase of the caregiver’s life is also a preparation for what God has planned for his or her post caregiving days. It has been said that God cannot use someone in a significant way until that person has suffered some deep loss, hurt, or pain. The losses and grief caregivers experience as they see their loved one’s health deteriorate will help them to be more compassionate servants of God in future days.

Dear Christian caregiver, the challenges of caregiving are shaping your character to become a more beautiful reflection of Jesus. Think of the Bible characters like Job, Paul, and others. Through their losses and grief they became more dependent on the Lord and more useable in His kingdom. Because of your sacrifices in caregiving and because of the pain you feel while caring for a loved one who cannot recover; you are being prepared to also be used in significant ways when your caregiving days end.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Affirmations of Love

Being a caregiver for my husband for over four and a half years was a significant calling that the Lord God placed on my life. It purposes in both my life and in my husband’s life were far reaching, and they taught valuable spiritual lessons.

Those days were also laden with challenges, however. My husband’s continual decline downward in his health robbed us of so much. They robbed us of the relationship we had experienced together in the past. Later in my husband’s disease I missed the easy verbal exchanges we had had in the past. Also in the past my husband had always been so free with his expressions of his love. I would often long for those days.

I journaled the following comments on May 17, 2009:
“Before my husband’s illness he would tell me I was beautiful, and he would often call me ‘his favorite wife.’ It became a standing source of teasing between us, because my reply would always be, 'How many wives do you have?'  My husband was always good about giving loving cards on special occasions also.  So much of that verbal affirmation is gone now.  My husband’s speech is so poor that basic communication between us is difficult.  I miss also the basic bouncing of ideas between us.”

I knew that my husband still loved me in spite of him not expressing it in the same way, as he had in the past. More importantly, I knew God loved me with an eternal love. I knew that God also affirmed that love over and over again in the Bible. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Zephaniah 3:17. In that verse God told me and continues to tell me that He loves me and even delights in me! He actually rejoices over me, and He quiets me with His love. Furthermore He, the mighty God, always will be with me.

Knowing that God loved me and even delighted in me was a source of comfort to me during my caregiving days. God’s affirming love for me comforted me even more than knowing that my caregiving role had a purpose and meaning.

Dear caregiver, if you are God’s child trust that the Lord loves you with an awesome and eternal love. When the discouragement and negative feelings surface may you rest in God’s love and find your treasure in Him! 


Monday, April 11, 2011


The last couple days have been beautiful in my town. It has finally begun to feel like spring. The temperatures are suppose to drastically drop again later in this week, however. Even though it has been a cold spring this year and spring has been long in coming, spring reminds me of new life and hope. The appearance of robins several weeks back was an indication that spring was on its way. The promise of spring reminds me that just as winter is finally fleeing, so the heartaches of life are not forever.

Caregiving for a loved one with a prolonged disease can be very discouraging. Witnessing the gradual but ever increasing deterioration of one’s loved one’s health is extremely disheartening. It can feel like the winter of life with no end in sight and no sign of hope for the future.

As a caregiver for my husband with a serious neurological disease I often felt discouraged. As his mobility and a host of other issues continued to decline, I sometimes felt overwhelmed and stressed. This became especially true when transfers became more and more difficult. As a Christian caregiver and child of God, however, I knew that there was always hope. I knew that my hope was an eternal hope. As I was going through the caregiving journey hope and my relationship with my Lord was what kept me going and persevering.

So what is hope? While I was a caregiver I wrote the following words about hope: “Hope reminds me that I do not really have to be in a state of panic. Things will work out in the end, and I will be guided step by step. Hope tells me that caregiving will never be easy, but there is an eternal purpose to this all. God’s purpose will be fulfilled in me, and His love is with me. Hope tells me that what I do in caregiving is important, and it has eternal consequences. Hope tells me that the trials of caregiving are forming my character to become stronger. It reminds me to not focus on what I see but on what will be and on what is good in my life right now. Hope focuses on seeing the small miracles of each day and knowing and trusting they will continue.”

Hope is a great ally to have in facing caregivng challenges and in facing the challenges of life in general. Hope helps to promote wellness and joy and peace in the midst of the challenges. Dear caregiver, do not give up hope. Embrace hope in the same way as you embrace the hope and newness of spring.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Divine Purpose

I am the kind of person who likes to organize and plan for events in my life. I like to know where I am going and plan for all possible scenarios. I also don’t like a lot of changes. As a caregiver for my husband for four and one half years I was not allowed that luxury. There was continual changes in my husband’s health, and most of these changes were downward.

These downward changes in my husband’s condition were very discouraging to me. How I longed for things to be “normal” in our household. From the beginning, however, I sensed that there was divine purpose in all we were experiencing. I sensed that I had spiritual lessons to learn through the caregiving experience.
For one thing my experiences as a caregiver for my husband revealed to me things that were not right about me yet. They revealed my tendency to be impatient and to worry about the future. The difficulties of caregiving tended to draw me closer to God and thus made me more aware of these imperfections and sins in my character. This more profound awareness of these things in my life and God revealing these things to me actually were a method God was using to show His love to me as His child. God was trying to develop more Godly character in me.

My caregiving experiences were difficult and heartbreaking, but they were not without purpose. Besides helping me realize things that needed refining and correcting in my character they made me draw closer to God. They also made me realize I needed to rely on Him entirely, if I wanted to be strong to do the things I needed to do as my husband’s caregiver. Self-reliance and thinking I could do it myself had to go out the window. There had to be a total surrender to God. I certainly did not come close to totally doing all this perfectly, but I certainly was made aware of these things.

There was also purpose for my husband, as his body declined in its ability to function as it should. I can not speak for him as to the exact spiritual lessons he learned. However, my husband taught me one important thing through his example. He never said, “Why me?’ throughout his whole experience. That in itself was part of his purpose trapped as he was in his body especially the last months and years of his life.

Dear caregiver, believe there is purpose for the difficulties you are experiencing as a caregiver. Search for these purposes and lessons. Also believe with all your heart that your loved one for whom you are providing care has a wonderful purpose for being on this earth.