No “Get-Out-of-Trials-Free” Card for Christians
I remember when caregiving first fell in on me; it was like I was numb, in shock. And when the numbness started wearing off, I experienced a searing emotional sensation, at which point I’d scramble every-which-way just trying to stop that pain.
I knew I had to keep moving forward; I was so afraid if I stopped to let myself really feel that emotional devastation, I might fly all to pieces. This was very upsetting to me as a person who professed faith in Jesus Christ—if I was a Christian then surely I’d know how to handle these kinds of stressful situations, wouldn’t I?
So I opted for letting the stress out in small, controlled bursts. I’d cry in the shower, or I’d cry on the couch after dinner. When people would ask me how it was going, I’d be truthful and tell them that it was much harder than I could’ve ever imagined. And it was very scary because I didn’t always know what to do next. In the early days, having to actually admit that I didn’t know what I was doing made me feel like I had a lack of faith.
Eventually I came to learn that being someone’s caregiver was a little like trying to stop a hurricane with a broom. While I could ensure my grandparents were safe and receiving proper medical care, I couldn’t stop the force of the dementia that was slowly taking them away from me.
But it turned out that Jesus really was directing my steps—just like I had prayed for Him to do—by giving me His wisdom to release the stress and candidly admit that I couldn’t do it all. It was His wisdom that directed me sit down in my therapist’s office and walk through the stunning admission that I wasn’t superwoman. It was one of the healthiest things I could have done.
Thankfully our society has gotten past the days when people wouldn’t dream of admitting they needed help because they were so afraid of what other people might think.
People today seem to have much more freedom to express they are struggling emotionally, and that they don’t have it altogether. It’s not yet a complete shift in thinking, and truth be told we still like to get on our social media platforms and try to put our best face forward, but it’s much easier for today’s GenX adults to admit that they’re seeking the counsel of a professional therapist, or even having regular meetings with a trusted pastor in an effort to get their mental and emotional bearings.
So here we are facing another Christmas season, and perhaps now would be a good time to remember that Isaiah 9:6 prophesied the coming Messiah would be the “wonderful counselor.” I can attest that Jesus has always been that for me—whether it was during my caregiving days or at any other time in my life.
For the weary caregiver, I offer this wisdom from my own experience: in the thick of my own emotional swirl, I cried out to Jesus in a torn-up, highly informal way, and do you know what? There was never even one single time that He failed to meet me in the middle of my mess. A comforting Scripture would come into my thoughts, or I’d get a call from a trusted friend encouraging me to hang in there. Sometimes I’d happen upon a Bible verse I’d jotted down on a random piece of paper and I could just feel the presence of Jesus right there with me.
For the dementia caregiver, Christmas can be hard; it’s not what it used to be…when your loved one was doing well and remembered who you are. But Jesus has always known who you are—and He always will. Always.
Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before him, into His ears.” Christians don’t get a “free pass” to just escape trials and tough seasons, but I encourage you to call on Him; it’s been my experience that He will not fail.