I was a caregiver for my husband almost 10 years ago, but the feelings I had are just under the surface of my emotional being. This past summer my husband (I remarried) had a horrible sciatic nerve pinch, and he was on his back for four straight weeks with lots of pain and expressions of pain. Without my even thinking about the old days of caregiving, the old emotions surfaced. I felt all alone in a sea of concern and no way to know what to do to help my husband. I felt washed up once again. I didn’t really understand the pain that goes with sciatic nerve problems. He had been to the doctor and got a muscle relaxer, and I was giving him Tylenol. (I know, that’s how uninformed I was) The desperate desire to help him teamed with my helplessness seemed overwhelming.
I also remembered the seclusion, the feeling of being overwhelmed by having to do the tasks my husband would typically do plus my jobs and now figuring out a caregiving schedule that would manage his pain. I remembered feeling misunderstood and the loneliness that goes with it.
We have a good group of friends and some had gone through sciatic pain and had great recommendations for us..such as a pain reliever stronger than Tylenol. Some called, and some offered to pray, and some gave us cards of chiropractors or other pain management ideas. The pain subsided for Bill to something more tolerable, and he learned how to lay that was less stress on the nerve. I got into a rhythm of caring for him.
As the rhythm of our life started to become comfortable and doable, something new was experienced.
The pain went on and we had to have his muscle relaxer prescription filled multiple times. We lived in our TV room because he couldn’t be off the couch for more than a few minutes and at least we could watch movies together when I had time. He worked on some computer needs we had, and he read up on some things he had wanted to for a while and never had time.
The quietness of having to stay close to him in case he needed something and didn’t have the strength to get it himself gave me time to think, meditate and pray. I always have a quiet time in the morning and time to pray. I started walking on the treadmill when I read and prayed. Exercise helped to relieve my tension and my muscles. Being forced to stay close to the house caused me to look for things to do outside in the sun and fresh air. I got many things done in the yard in preparation for winter. I am way ahead of my schedule in years past.
The most beautiful thing is that I have seen Bill in a new light. He is tender when I was not; he was patient when I was not. We didn’t have competing schedules, and we could work or talk together. Each of these things I learned about him highlighted stuff about myself I didn’t like. In my quiet time, I could talk to God about whatever discovery I made, and through prayer and God’s wisdom, I grew as an individual.
I had time (lots of time stuck at home) and used that time with God who designed me gave me a new ability to grow and become more relaxed and real. There were no reasons for pretense or airs.
Hebrews 12:1-2 …..let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith,….
Getting rid of all the things I thought I just had to accomplish and places I had to go forced me to have time with myself. When I am by myself, I cannot lie about who I am or how I need to change. I am so excited that I have found a built a relationship with the author of my soul who longs to help us reach our potential and live a fulfilled life. I just needed to take some breathes, get real, and listen to His still small voice speaking to me in the quiet of my day.
I know now when I am tense, it probably means I need to listen for His voice. When I am bored, it probably says I didn’t hear His voice. A book I am reading, Rhythms of the Inner Life, suggests that listening for God is not something that must include Bible reading and devotion. It is important to start our day with at least some segment of time that focuses on God to set the rhythm for the day, but all through the day we need to silence the world around us so we can listen, whether that is five minutes of time or fifteen minutes of time. I know it has helped me to become closer to God and more “me.”