I mentioned in my last caregiving blog post that I felt off guard when my husband had sciatic nerve pain. I had plans, and now they needed to be pushed aside to care for the urgent. Memories of caregiving in the past flooded my thoughts, and I became resistant to my husband’s concerns. I didn’t want to give up my plans or stay tied to the house in case he needed me since he could do almost nothing for himself. I didn’t want to feel that helpless feeling as I watched someone I love suffer. Tension escalated, but only on my part because my husband had enough to think about in trying to manage the pain.
I am resistant to almost everything at first if it isn’t my idea. Yeah, I’m great like that. As time passed and we came to some understanding on what he needed and made a schedule for pills and juice and water refills and a sort of rhythm for care, we admitted the bottom line is we love each other, and we want our marriage to stay strong. I calmed down.
Resistance is Misplaced Worship
The thing about resistance is it is misplaced worship. My focus was on me and what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do needed to be done, but we could live okay if it were put off, so why was I so demanding that I get my way? Why did it seem worth getting upset over and even putting a nick in our relationship? Maybe because I am a spoiled brat or perhaps because of the new demands on my life were blown out of proportion by my memories, but I saw myself like I see the ugliness in the news or on Facebook. There is someone resistant to everything. It’s tiring, and it’s everywhere these days. I had joined the team.
In John 10:10 Jesus says he came to give us life to the full. He also says in John 11:25 that He is life. My pursed lips and angry spirit were sucking the life out of me.
We think we know what life is and what we want that life to look like and then we either give up hope when things look bleak that we’ll ever have our dream or we may become resistant to anything that gets in the way of our vision. Obstacles to our dream life are people sometimes and the circumstances that go with having people in our life. Life would be miserable without people, and we need to question why we think some people are obstacles especially the ones who love us. Is Love an obstacle?
The Law of Love
Jesus taught a lot of things, but He only had one law, Love. Mark 12:29-31. In caregiving, we have the perfect opportunity to love as Jesus loved, sacrificially. Whether caregiving is for someone who is sick, mentally or physically handicapped or in need of a friend, we have an opportunity to give of ourselves in love.
Resistance causes our focus to be on ourselves. (So people living with Alzheimer are excused! I put this in here because I know they are probably the most resistant care receivers) Our world becomes small and angry when our misplaced worship is on our concerns. Anger and the emotions that go with anger can form a hard shell around our hearts that cannot be penetrated by the needs of others. Slowly we may become, so self-focused that our misplaced worship turns into misplaced discipleship and that can only lead us away from peace.
On the journey to being a better caregiver, I had to make a choice: anger or peace, the death of my soul or life? Jesus came that I might have life to the full. Why would I not want life and peace? When I took my eyes off myself and my agenda, I felt peace replace my anger. When I opened my arms to the opportunity to love as Jesus loved, I took on the form of Jesus sacrifice (arms wide open) and stepped up to my chance to love.
If you have been a caregiver before and I know it can feel like you have given everything and had nothing else to offer, don’t let your heart be troubled. Jesus gives us peace, not as the world gives (fragile), but the peace that will last a lifetime, soul peace.
Finding Life and Peace
If you are feeling drained as a caregiver and you don’t know how to receive the peace that only Jesus can give, simply admit it. Admit you cannot do this caregiving thing alone. Crack the hard shell of resistance and anger that has hidden your heart. Allow your brokenness to come flooding out. Pray. Confess your weakness and anything you are feeling sorry about. Ask Jesus to come into your situation, forgive and heal your broken heart, so it is soft like His.