Are you caring for a loved one? Are you at your wits end? Do you need encouragement to not give up?
I once heard the saying “all good stories begin and end in the heart of a man.”[i] I suppose there is much truth to that statement, but perhaps some of the best stories ever told are those that actually change lives—true stories that carry a message of hope in the midst of a struggle. These stories not only begin and end in the heart of a man; they can change the heart of a man. This can be especially true for caregiving.
Many of my friends are in the difficult place of caring for a loved one. They’re not alone since currently there are more than 40 million Americans in this same situation, yet most of these individuals feel isolated and alone. Many are trying to juggle life as they once knew it along with their new role of caregiving and their lives feel out of control.
I Can Relate
A few years ago, I gave up the life I’d known to care for an elderly family member with dementia. As I fulfilled this caregiving role, I realized I had a choice—the choice to look with joy (and many times humor) at what was taking place, or the choice to get angry, frustrated and heartbroken. I had the choice to laugh or cry. Within each choice, I also had the God-given ability to become all that God created me to be by making the right choice—the choice which filled my heart with joy.
I slowly learned that God had a far greater plan for my heart in the midst of my daily struggles of caregiving. Lessons He desired to teach me. But oftentimes, I’m sad to admit, I was a slow learner.
So, to help me grasp the lessons taught, I began to write daily devotions to stay focused on the bigger picture of caregiving. The lessons we often overlook in our times of frustration. I learned there is a better way—a most excellent way.
First Corinthians chapter 13 oftentimes is referred to as the love chapter. It begins with these words, which are actually found at the end of chapter 12:
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:31b, NIV84)
Over the next few of weeks, I’ll post some of the devotions from what I learned. Hopefully, these posts will be words of encouragement for you, so that you too can choose the most excellent way during your difficult times of caregiving.
First Corinthians 13 goes onto say:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV84)
It’s my hope that you, along with other readers, will see your difficulties, struggles and heartbreaking moments of caring for your loved ones from God’s perspective and not your own, so that your life story not only begin and end in the heart—it changes your heart for God’s glory.
My Prayer for You
My prayer for you is this: That you will find joy in the midst of the struggle as God transforms your heart.
Sounds impossible? It’s not!
By applying the simple truths presented in the upcoming blogs, I encourage you to reach into the depths of your heart, examine that which is unpleasing to God, and allow Him to do His gentle surgery. By being brave and honest with yourself in the midst of your daily struggle, you’ll discover an amazing attribute that God truly wants you to experience—joy—unspeakable joy.
As James instructs, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).
I encourage you to look at the frustrations, struggles and heartbreaks of being a caregiver from a different perspective. The perspective of, what does God want to teach me in the midst of this struggle?
Perspective Changes Everything
As you change your earthly perspective to an eternal perspective this will help to lift your heart. And as you apply the truths that God teaches you will find joy.
In fact, here is a link that provides a few encouraging verses for caregivers to help you stay focused on the eternal picture.
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I can honestly say that caring for my loved one, although it was one of the most difficult times in my life, it also was one of the most precious. Most likely due to the growth that God caused within my heart.
Blessings to you.
[i] Last of the Dogmen, Savoy Pictures, 1995.