This morning it occurred to me that the people for whom I write--caregivers--are well aware that the caregiving journey includes times of struggle and tears.
All my life decisions now are contingent upon my mother's presence in our home and my continuing responsibility to her. After a time of uncertainty during which the special reading program I've run for 11 years was cut from our school's budget, I grappled first with the possibility of being released from duty after 30 years as a teacher; and then with the realities of a change in my job description when I was finally offered a contract for another year. During that time of uncertainty I struggled before the Lord, contending with fear. If I gave up my job in order to provide care for my mother, her social security check and the small salary she pays me for taking care of her would become my only contribution to our family's financial well-being. Mom's condition will continue to deteriorate, and I did not want to be financially dependent upon a source of income that will evaporate overnight if and when she needs rest home care.
I know that when at all possible, caregivers should not choose to become financially dependent on their care recipients. If this occurred due to circumstances outside my control, then, God knows best and would provide. However, as I worked my way through uncertainty and grief, it seemed clear to me that giving up my employment is not an action I should initiate.
On the other hand, I suspected myself of depending on some other source than the Lord for my sustenance, and I suffered guilt. For a time I considered resigning my job as a sort of leap of faith, to prove to the Lord I trusted Him where I could not see. This path also offered the attraction of escaping the possibility of being pink-slipped. I would resign before having to suffer the humiliation of being told I was no longer of value professionally.
This morning, having decided to sign that contract, I prayed, "I doubt myself, oh I doubt myself Lord. Maybe I refused the incarnation You were placing before me. Maybe I got to the threshold and turned back." I thought perhaps He was desiring me to launch out in faith, to give up my fear of being bound to serve my mother's needs past my physical or emotional capacity to survive the burdens intensive caregiving would bring. I prayed, "Lord, my release to You of my job and my income was not a conditional release. I was and am willing to go through the fear and grief of whatever loss You might allow me…key word, “through.” I trust You to bring me through."
But I felt concern that I'd failed some kind of a test, that the motivations behind the course of action I'd chosen were not pure. Fear of financial lack and of being stressed beyond my ability to bear by caregiving duties didn't seem to be Godly motivations. I prayed, "Please don’t let me have failed You."
In response I received this comforting word from the Lord:
I will not fail you. Trust Me. I am Sovereign over your circumstances; over your going out and your coming in. I am with you if you go and I am with you if you stay. My presence will not leave you, I will not forsake you for all the days you walk upon the earth, and afterward I will bring you safely home to Glory. Your fear is that you will lose the light of My presence. Do not be afraid, I Am with you. This is my promise to you.
Regardless of our circumstances as caregivers, we can trust the Lord to gather all our tears, to heal all hurts, to right all wrongs; to bring complete victory in a way that makes all that has been bitter, sweet.
Scripture: "This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9).
"But I said, "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God" (Isaiah 49:4).
"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands" (Psalm 31:14-15).