Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Confinement of Caregiving

All of us find ourselves dealing with difficult people from time to time. In fact, I’ve noticed that once in awhile, I am the difficult person with whom someone close to me has to cope!

A few days ago I received a prayer request from a friend who has the daily challenge of interacting with a difficult person of her own. As I prayed, the story of Jonah came to mind; and I remembered the strange way the Lord made provision for him: “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

I wrote an email to my friend saying, “Being confined by any situation not of our choosing can be viewed as a provision from the Lord. God has gifted you through your difficult person. As you've learned to cope with her, you’ve gained virtues of patience, long-suffering, and forbearance.”

As I proofed the email I’d written to my friend, I realized that my words could be applied to a caregiver’s relationship with his/her care recipient. Taking care of someone who has dementia is certainly confining emotionally and usually physically as well. To think of my caregiving duties as a situation the Lord has provided for me reminds me there is no circumstance He has not designed. This is a liberating thought that gives freedom from the misconception that “If only this situation was different, I could be happy.”

If you have been provided a difficult caregiving situation, I hope you are encouraged today by the thought that God plans blessing for you and not harm through the circumstances that seem so confining now. Jonah didn’t stay forever in the belly of that fish! For caregivers, the knowledge that caregiving responsibilities will someday come to an end is bittersweet, because when that day of freedom arrives it will mean that our loved one has departed. God is with through these confining days of caregiving, and He will be with us when this time is done.

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