The loneliness of caregiving is intensified by the fact that we tend to think something is wrong when we are in relationship with other human beings but still have a sense of isolation, of not being understood or truly seen; of being alone.
We need to accept that as long as we are at home in the flesh, we are away from Christ; and that this terrible homesickness and longing we feel can’t be satisfied by other human beings. We must accept as a fact of earth-bound life that we will feel lonely; that the only satisfaction for our heart’s needs is in our Savior’s face. We can access Him now, through the Spirit. Things that feed the flesh tend to weaken our perception of Him. Once we recognize this it becomes easier to discipline the flesh.
It’s difficult to accept that happiness--true, complete, lasting happiness--does not exist for us apart from Jesus. We can begin to participate in that happiness now, but flesh wars with the Spirit; and not until we leave the flesh behind will we be truly at home. Accepting this doesn’t have to do with spiritual maturity so much as it has to do with faith and the willingness to accept that on this planet, we are never going to have things just like we want them. Perfection can be found only in the Lord; it does not exist in the material world.
This acceptance is necessary before we can truly let other human beings off the hook for satisfying that aching emptiness within our hearts.
When circumstances require us to assume caregiving responsibilities for a fellow human being, there is a spiritual and emotional transition that must occur. We must come to understand that mature Christian love is Christ’s love, and Christ’s love makes no demands based on personal need. His only demand of us is that we become perfect as He is perfect. We can be perfected because we are perfectly loved by the Lord. That process will not be completed until Heaven, but it can begin now.
When I was a little girl, a dear friend of my mother's, Ruby Roberts, lost her husband to cancer. I was around eight-years-old and could not fathom living alone, as Ruby was doing following her husband's death. I asked her, "Are you lonely?"
She smiled and said, "I am alone, but never lonely. Jesus is with me."
As Christian caregivers I pray that we are able to participate in Christ's presence to the degree that we can say with Ruby, "I may be alone, but I am never lonely."