So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
A caregiver can be eaten alive by giving care. It can become too easy to make caregiving your whole life and lose your own identity. I know.
My son was born with brain damage, needing supervision from birth. He still needs trained staff to help him live in the community. My husband’s sudden illness and debilitation required intensive care for two years; I was his caregiver until he died. Then my mother needed companionship and loving care. In giving care, I have learned that God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you.”
I’ve also learned something else. It is so well stated by David Haas in his hymn, You are Mine, resonates with me. One line reads, “I will call your name, embracing all your pain, stand up, now walk, and live.” I’ve learned that, as a caregiver, to “stand up, walk, and live,” means to have a life of your own, to have meaningful activities and a purpose for yourself along with giving care.
Finally, I’ve learned that routines and support systems can change, but God’s love is constant. God enables us to claim the peace the world cannot give. God enables both sick and caregiver to kneel together in prayer. God says to each, “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you….”
Prayer: Thank you, dear Lord, for not leaving us alone, defeated. We talk to you so much and know you listen. Help us to listen, too, for your comfort in times of change. Help us to care for ourselves as we care for others. Amen.
Deaconess Sharon Stoike, Ann Arbor, Michigan