This year, I’ve had a lot of conversations with myself and with God as to what my role as a caregiver truely is. The care, I wanted so desparately to give to my loved ones did not come to fruition in the way that I envisioned it would. It hurt because I wanted to improve their lives and take away suffering. What God revealed to me was my own pain and suffering, healing, and a huge lesson about “letting go”.
As caregivers of the chronically ill, we have solutions we know would work. If only the patient and the other people and/or services involved would just “cooperate”, we’ve got this, or so we think!!! God has to remind us on more than one occasion that we don’t. Many times, it’s when we try to take the control aspect away from God and don’t allow Him to show up in the life of the patient that we overstep our bounds. God, in his infinite wisdom, when we seek control and refuse to let go with clinched fists, listens when we ask “Why are my efforts failing?” In answer to us, He poses questions back that ask, “Where is I AM in this equation and….Are you really trusting ME?” These questions stopped me in my tracks and left me in tears! As a Christian, I thought I trusted God, but in my humanity, it seemed cruel to take my hands off of my family, as part of that trust, but God showed me that “letting go” is a requirement of true trust.
Does “letting go” mean do nothing? No, absolutely not, but it does mean letting Him guide you as you respect the wishes of the person you are caring for. It also means ignoring a selfish, self-imposed, idealized view of what you think “care” should be. It’s a journey, but through the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, we can dicern the difference and learn to “let go” in order to do the following:
- Empathize with our loved one’s weaknesses. To accomplish this, we must humble ourselves knowing that we all share the same weaknesses as human beings. God is the only judge and jury. Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.We are to bear with the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters, knowing that we might be tempted in the same way.
- Sow understanding, non-judgement, and encouragement; you will receive it back when you have to go through a time of suffering. Refrain from being critical about their situation. Galations 6:7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.
- Be a positive encourager and not a negative nagger about caretaking essentials like medications, exercise, and nutrition needs. Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
- Give love over advice often. Hugs, smiles, talking about anything other than their illness should fill your days when your with your patient. Caregivers sometimes dwell on the illness. This is not therapeutic. Be a true friend and talk about life together. Share experiences unrelated to the condition. 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
- Release the unnecessary or unwanted control/duties/or protection you provide (unless you are putting someone in harm’s way) and trust God. Remember that you can not “fix” anyone. This is sometimes a necessary step for them to accept a situation, or learn things about themselves, or to call on God for help. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean no unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
- Express Joy in the face of an unhappy circumstance or patient so that they can gain strength through your example to them and receive hope. Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.