Friday, July 7, 2017

Finding Rhythm and Rest as a Caregiver

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Right now, I can relate to Frodo in his quote from Lord of the Rings, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” 

Caregiving is my world: Bethany, our almost 17-year-old with Down Syndrome, is rapidly approaching navigating an adult world. I can’t help but feel like she’s a bit like Dory, swimming toward a riptide in an ocean of beauty and unknown dangers. I have 27+ immediate family -- my husband, children & spouses, grandchildren (2 more on the way)  My 91-year-old dad lives with us, and the last month has been overwhelming as we transition my mother-in-love to a nursing home, due to diminishing health and increasing dementia. This also meant sorting, donating, and downsizing all of her worldly possessions, pictures, and "treasures." I'm also trying to take care of myself (excuse me for snorting out loud). Why is it so difficult for me to see myself as needing consistent care to stay healthy and whole??? Yep! The caregiver is supposed to be giving said care to SELF! Oh, and did I mention I’m a pastor’s wife to a church family?

I am a caregiver. By hardwire and heart. I love to help, come alongside, encourage, serve, come to the rescue. Sometimes love drives me, other times guilt. Often, I forget I’m supposed to put the spiritual oxygen mask on me first before I reach out to help others. Repeatedly, I think I can do more than is truly reasonable. When I wear my superwoman cape -- it’s a given-- I will be sucked  down the rabbit hole of exhaustion and lay there depleted and confused asking, "What just happened?"

I am learning though – lesson by lesson, person by person to burn the super cape and and run to the Super God/Man,   Jesus. After all, He told me He’d teach me how to do life with His help.

Jesus said this: “Walk with Me and work with Me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Caregiving requires adjusting my life to a different rhythm; the unforced rhythms of grace.

I have to intentionally slow down and re-prioritize what God knows is vital vs. what I think is important.

The key? The secret? It's just so easy it's difficult.

Walking with Jesus, talking with Him, working with Him, in other words admitting:  I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE.

If I don't want to crash and burn in this life... Caregiving is a team effort. 

God and me.

He wants to take away the rhythm of perfectionism, self-reliance, and/or guilt.  

I’m learning to say no to the drum beat of guilt, the illusive melody of perfectionism, the bass line thrumming exhaustion, the crescendo of frustration, and the cacophony of chaos obliterates any underlying harmony.

I’m praying  surrendering my outdated coping systems to Him. I’m asking Him to tune my heart to His.

I want to hear His rhythm; the never failing beat is love, the compelling melody is joy, the bass line thrums serving, the crescendo is insight, and the harmonies are peace. 

As I listen and learn, slow down and breathe, simplify and surrender, I begin to dance with my Father.

His music sets the pace of life, my heart is synced to His as I learn to follow His lead, relax in His arms, and yield to His absolute Wisdom that is wrapped in love, compassion, and mercy. 

The stress and anxiety begin to fade as I find the rhythms and rest of His presence.
Sonja Bignaut- Prophetic Images

Good Father in Heaven:

Teach us to live and love well each and every day. Please order our days with the necessary and help us let go the unnecessary. Father, help us not to feel guilty when we can’t do it all. Show us how to pray for others and help us recognize You are working Your good purposes whether we see it or not. Tune our heart to Yours. Let us learn to dance with You to the unforced rhythms of grace.

In Jesus Name. 

1 comment:

  1. So needed as many caregivers, me included, think the world will cease to exist if our bathroom break is too long. Self-care looks different for each of us depending on our routine. However, depletion looks the same when a caregiver has hit burn out. There's no way we can love our family member more than God. I learned the hard way to do caregiving God's way so He could take care of me AND those for whom I was a caregiver.