Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Overlooked Role of Caregiver (part two): How God’s People Served

With God by my side, I knew I was an overcomer; and He knew I would need encouragement to continue on this road.

I would literally administer a feeding through Tim’s tube while he rested, climb the stairs to play video games with our kids, slip back downstairs to check his blood pressure or get him more pain medication or honestly sometimes only to make sure he was still breathing, then return to the laughter of the upstairs den.  I don’t understand how anyone can endure this hurricane without God’s grace and the hope we find in Him.  God alone was my sole source of strength.  


Because this was my husband’s personal health battle, we agreed to let him make the rules of how we would manage this season of our lives.  He chose to handle it without allowing many people around.  I sometimes felt isolated and suffocated by the stress and loneliness of my role. 

God sent special friendships to minister to me during this time.  Friends who respected Tim’s wishes, and left us to our privacy, but still managed to be creative in ways to bless and encourage me; they were my God-given lifeline to the outside world. 

We spent months in the hospital, me sleeping in the chair that made into a mini-cot (when I was lucky).  Most mornings I would find a text message to “please step out into the hallway” where my favorite specialty coffee and oatmeal would be waiting with a quick hug from a precious friend.  In the quiet stillness of the hospital room as Tim would spend periods unresponsive to outside stimuli, I would find emails or private Facebook messages with prayers specifically for me.   

On weeks where we were able to be at home, my mailbox would hold all sorts of treasures from anonymous friends…encouraging cards filled with Scripture or gift cards to ease the financial burden we were experiencing.  We even returned one day to find a beautiful fall wreath hung on our door.  On two occasions, our flower beds had gorgeous flowers planted by loving hands.  Our church friends filled our freezer with groceries.  

Our children’s school…

where do I even begin with the love they poured out to us?  

They came up with the best idea I have ever seen to provide meals for us.  Tim’s cancer took away his ability to swallow and eventually his sense of smell.  Until he lost his sense of smell, I was very hesitant to cook meals.  It seemed torturous to put him through that, and Tim had been clear that he did not want company in our home, so having meals delivered wasn't an option.  The school left an insulated food bag in the office and families took turns anonymously filling it. This eliminated my need to spend hours in the kitchen away from Tim, it minimized the aroma from cooking, it skirted the issue of having people visit, and it did not require me to send thank you cards.

I have found that no one knows the extent of the caregiver’s role unless they have walked the road for themselves, and even then, circumstances and degrees vary greatly.  If you have someone in your life that is a primary caregiver to a loved one, seek out ways to minister to them.  You may be the only one who shows the hands and feet of Christ to them on their journey.  Be creative and bring them little encouragements of love.  You may not be able to truly empathize with them, but maybe from this glimpse inside my journey, you can better sympathize with them.  

"Bear one another’s burdens, 
and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

I was beyond blessed in my role as caregiver.  Beyond BLESSED by a grateful and brave husband!  BEYOND blessed by Christians who helped bear my burden!  I fear this isn't the case for many others on this road.  

I have committed to keep my eyes and ears open for ways I can intentionally show Christ’s love to others who walk this path.  Will you join me?  If so, I’d love to hear how.  Let's be creative together as we bear one another's burdens!

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