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The Caregiver Journey (Part 1)

There are six key areas I’ve identified in my journey as a caregiver. The purpose of this article is to bring Spiritual/emotional clarity to the process, while offering guidance that may help in maintaining quality of living. 1. Clarity 2. Acceptance/Surrender 3. Deciding 3. Transitioning 4. Committing and 5. Sustaining.

Clarity

I am often asked by many people “how I do it?” It always intrigues me because I truly do not see myself differently than anyone else. When confronted with the possibility of Alzheimer’s, and that giving up my life and returning home was real, I didn’t jump for joy or sing praises to the Lord – instead I cried and said, “Christ no I don’t want to!” I’ve mentioned in my “caregiver restores” (i.e. retreats), I even had very strong influences in my life question whether returning home to live with my mom could possibly be God’s will?! I look back at that now and am so grateful I sought the Lord for myself. (Psalms 25:4-5) Had I not done that, instead of moving forward with assurance, I would have consistently lacked confidence and strength. A big part of caregiving, like many decisions made at critical intersections of our lives, start with clarity that the assignment is God’s will. (Psalms 37:23-24) Whether, you’re caring for a disabled or sick child, a daughter or son facing an aging parent, or in the middle of a sudden life-threatening crisis – let’s just get this straight, it is very much God’s will to care for others. (Luke 10:22-35) No one else can ever assure or validate a caregiving decision for you. God laid before you the divine opportunity, but you will need to choose it. A word of caution, many may have an opinion (and offer very good, logical insight), but many will also steer “your choice” according to their own moral weaknesses and limitations. This is not judgement but truth. Each of us must be accountable to God – it’s not a group project. (Romans 14: 11-12) When God drops some things into “your lap” it is presented as your decision not someone else’s. He never said it would be convenient, or comfortable, or that it would not be costly.(Luke 9:57-62) Now let’s not get stuck on clarity – it does not mean paralysis. Receiving Spiritual clarity is very much an active pursuit of God and a necessity in establishing a solid foundation mentally and emotionally. God primarily speaks through his word, the wise Godly counsel of people and circumstances. As you seek God expecting him to respond, with your heart open to his will, he will respond boldly, clearly and swiftly. (Matthew 7:7-11, John 16:23-24, Luke 11:11-13)

Acceptance/Surrender is not a physical thing it’s a heart thing. (Job 11:13) One can know caring for someone is the right thing, even do the right thing, and still not have full acceptance in their hearts. In the case of caregiving, when I speak of acceptance I’m referring to surrender. Caregiving God’s way requires surrender to your own ideas, plans, desires. (1 Peter 5:6-10) While it was hard to accept we were dealing with Alzheimer’s, and equally hard to surrender my own plans and life, once I heard from heaven it changed everything for me. Suffice it to say there is no greater power in a process no matter how difficult it is than to know you’ve been assured by God and in alignment with his word. Now remember, acceptance/surrender is not predicting the outcome. When I accepted our life had intersected with Alzheimer’s and that God was instructing me to return home, I didn’t like the idea, I didn’t know how it would happen, I didn’t even have a full picture of what I’d be walking in to, but in saying yes I didn’t make predictions I simply trusted the process and outcome to God. The outcomes I had to trust God with were not just related to mom’s condition but equally as much the outcomes related to my life (dreams, finances, etc.) Acceptance does not mean you understand it all, or that you feel no fear – it means you do it scared. Surrender sets the heart right and sets the stage for effectively managing anxiety and stress later.

Next, I will engage in what it really means to make a decision.

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