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For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
Psalm 18:31-39 ESV
I know I may be accused of overkill, but I will come at this topic again from a different perspective because I think we caregivers can always use it. The terms, “I just can’t do this anymore.” or “I have had it.” or “This is just too much.” are not uncommon for caregivers. They are especially common at the end of long, difficult days when we are tired. But at the end of a good night’s sleep, if that is possible for you, we don’t feel that way anymore.
God is our Rock: stable and firm. He equips us with strength when we need it during times of difficulty.
This is encouraging truth for us. God is our Rock and can equip us with the strength we need. That is not to say we don’t need to ask for help in certain areas of need. Or check to see if help is available in our community. For example, if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, is there someone who can help you so you can get a nap during the day? Is there a day care/respite situation available in your community so you can get errands done/visit friends/get out of the house? Before you say why those things can’t be done, stop and consider what could be done to make them happen for a day or two a week. Are there family members who could help pay for it if you have financial issues? Have you asked? How have you asked? Instead of automatically saying these things aren’t possible, look at the variety of options surrounding them.
On the sites where I visit and people talk about their caregiving, there are a host of problems stated. People want to talk a lot about their problems and they want a lot of empathy. Of course, there is a place for that. But at some point, we need to talk about solutions. Help can often come from unexpected places and in unexpected forms.
Difficult family dynamics always come to the forefront when a parent becomes ill or infirm, or family members are being asked to help with their care. The dynamics were there all along. But they show up in new ways at these times.
One area that is problematic is family dynamics. Every problematic family dynamic comes to a head when a parent becomes sick or infirm. This is especially true when there is money involved. By that I mean that money is being requested to pay for expenses or help is needed to care for the person (which can either cost dollars or time.)
There are family members that are uncooperative. But there are also communication issues that keep us from being clear about what we need and what we are willing to do to help. I also know that there are some caregivers who can be a bit martyr-ish. No, I’m not talking about you, but some can be a lot like Martha in the Bible. Rather than talk to Mary and ask for her help, Martha asked Jesus to make Mary help her. She wasn’t being very direct was she? That indirect passive-aggressive manner of communication can be irritating and for many, is not always clear.
Financial needs of all involved need to be discussed frankly, with actual facts in hand and taken into consideration. You can’t assume this will be a short term (6 month) situation.
It’s also easy to understand how one person who is shouldering a large part of the load can feel overburdened. But often they can take on too much of the burden without being asked to. Then, they get in the middle of it all and get overwhelmed and angry with everyone else when no one asked them to to all they are doing. It is much better to confer with each other before you get in the middle of a caregiving entanglement rather than after. For example, don’t have your parent sell their home and move in with one of the children before everyone has met together and talked about how this is going to work out, especially if it goes on for years longer than expected. this includes the financial aspects of what is happening. It is unwise to do this as a solution to an unemployed child’s situation or their poor financial situation. It is also unwise to have someone quit their job in order to care for the loved one unless that is the only option available and if so, how will those financial needs be met?
How can the non-caregiving family members help and encourage?
If you are a family member who isn’t helping much, what can you do by way of encouragement? If you are out of town, can you visit more? Can you help financially? Ask what you could do to help. You might be surprised. The answers might be very simple. If you live in town, ask what you could do to help. Don’t automatically say you can’t do what is asked. Pause for a day. Think about it. Then get back to the caregiver. You might need to make a counteroffer.
Find out what things cause the most stress for the caregiver. Sometimes, those are the things you can do some of them and lessen her stress by a mile. Often, they might be things you find easy to do. For example, one person may find ordering medications online to be very stressful, another orders them with no problems at all. It is simply a different set of abilities. For another, it one more set of things to do in a very busy day and becomes overwhelming!
Of course, you can help so much by praying with and for caregivers and those who are shut-in
We minimize how much our prayers can help encourage those who are caregivers or who are shut-in. Your prayers with and for them are so helpful and encouraging. Praying part of a passage like this for someone is extremely encouraging. Reminding them of God’s “Rock-ness” that gives us hope. Reminding them of God’s ability to give us strength during times of weakness are also wonderfully encouraging. Imagine how encouraging this is along with a short visit in person or over the phone.
I hope you have a delightful week thinking about this promise of God’s equipping of strength.