Monday, July 23, 2012

Valuable Life Lessons Taught by Caregiving

Caregiving by its very nature tends to teach valuable life lessons. In many ways caregiving is a grief process for caregivers, as they see their loved ones continue to decline. Caregiving is a difficult process and experience. As a caregiver for my husband for over four and one half years I also found the caregiving experience to be a great teacher, however.

I think caregiving and its challenges teaches us that God uses even the difficulties and heartbreak of caregiving for ultimate good. Caregiving and life in general is often difficult. That comes from living on this earth. Yet we know that God does not waste our sorrows. When we think of Jesus dieing on the cross we know that eternal life came from that death on the cross. From something so awful as Christ’s crucifixion came the best thing that could possible happen namely our salvation. So very good things come from very bad things. The cross illustrates that to us. In the same way God brings ultimate good out of the heartbreak of caregiving. He uses caregiving to build our characters, draw us closer to Himself, and in a host of other ways. God never wastes our sorrows.

I think caregiving also teaches us that life is always out of our control. We live in a fallen world. Hence, seeking self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be. Delusions of strength and self-sufficiency will in fact hurt us. Caregivers are often great organizers and great advocates for the loved ones under their care, but they also soon realize that they are not sufficient in themselves. The job of caregiving is too big for them in their own strength. Realizing their need for their dependence on the Lord is essential. I know when I was a caregiver if I had not known that the Lord was with me, I would have folded under the pressure. Acknowledging one’s weakness and dependence on the Lord is a good thing. It is a valuable lesson to learn. Caregiving often teaches that lesson.

In the whole caregiving scenario it is good whenever possible to accept and enlist the help of other people also. This help could be emotional encouragement or physical help in the care of the caregiver’s loved one. Accepting or asking for help never comes naturally, but we must be humble enough to accept it. Hence, humility is often a lesson taught by the caregiving experience.

For a variety of reasons, however, sometimes others will let us down and not be there when we need them. That was surely my experience as a caregiver. The Lord, however, will never let us down or betray us. He really is the only One who can get into the caregiver’s head and understand all the emotions and heartaches that he or she is feeling. He alone is the One to whom we can go and pour out our hearts, and also allow Him to speak to us. The Christian caregiver can speak to the Lord all through the day at any moment. Caregiving and it’s difficulties allows the caregiver an opportunity to pray like never before. As I said before, I do not know what I would have done without the presence of the Lord in my life during those difficult caregiving years.

Finally, caregiving teaches the need for the promises of the Bible to sustain us. As a caregiver I found that it was essential to try to begin every day in God’s Word. God’s Word contains so many awesome promises of His care, guidance, and presence. Hence, I found the promises of the Bible comforting and necessary in my duties as a caregiver. Caregiving is so very emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. Without the promises of God’s Word I do not think I could have survived my caregiving days. Dear Christian Caregiver, read God’s Word, study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and internalize it.

So dear Christian Caregiver, lean on the Lord and on His promises in the Bible, and trust that He will bring good out of the chaos of caregiving.

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