Friday, February 4, 2011

Right Where I'm Supposed to Be

When I first began taking care of my mom, I remember struggling against a restlessness that made me feel that caregiving was robbing time from other responsibilities. At first I saw providing care to Mom as an interruption in my life's plan, rather than a holy purpose assigned to me by God. I came to understand that the Lord desired me to have the same kind of commitment to caregiving as I had experienced in my dedication to teaching children to read during my career as a teacher.

I've since learned that it is a mistake to define myself by the job assignments I am given. Back then I thought of myself so strongly in terms of my identity as a teacher that it was difficult for me to cut my job to half time in order to assume the new role of caregiver. And now, as I prepare to retire from my teaching career a few years early, this message has been reiterated to me again and again:  I am never to think of myself as being defined by the job I do, but rather in terms of the relationship I have; I am a child of God.

Flexibility is not and has not ever been my strong point. The transition to the role of caregiver was difficult for me just as letting go of my teaching career is hard for me now. I tend to resist new roles until the Lord sort of knocks me upside the head and says, "I am in this! Stop resisting! Blessings are in store!!!"

One of my newer roles is that of grandmother. I love my grandson dearly, long for him when I don't see him for more than a few days; and delight in him when he is with me. However, I'm ashamed to admit that I do not enjoy babysitting. Tending to the needs of a toddler always elicits in me that restless feeling described above, as though I am not doing what I'm supposed to do.

Yesterday my husband and daughter went on a grocery shopping expedition together, and I was left behind, taking care of not quite three-year-old Daniel. We were having a wonderful time, but beneath my enjoyment of this precious child lurked the the oppressive weight of all of my other responsibilities.  That restless, ever-present voice in my head whispered that I ought to be accomplishing something else.  

I'd pulled out an old teaching unit and found a folder full of colorful, laminated photos of different kinds of birds. As I pulled each photo from the folder, Daniel named them. I was laughing in delight at the fact that he knew "flamingo," when three die cut letters fell from the folder. 

"Probably a caption from an old bulletin board," I thought. I looked through the folder to get a clue as to what the caption might have been, but found no more letters.

"D," said Daniel, picking up one of the letters.

"D is for Daniel!" I smiled, once again amazed at my grandson's knowledge.

And then I picked up the other two letters. Slowly, and with the strong feeling that the Holy Spirit wanted me to pay attention, I set them out.

"S for Scott," I said. Daniel's middle name is Scott.

With goosebumps, I put the final letter in place. "Here is an R for your last name, Daniel."

Sure enough, my grandson's initials, DSR, lay before us. There were no other letters in the folder or in the box from which they came. I have no idea why those three letters were placed in the folder initially, because that file hadn't been opened for at least ten years. I know the Lord was telling me there will be opportunities still to use the materials and experience I've gained over the past thirty years as a teacher.  Most of all, I understood that yesterday afternoon as I sorted pictures of birds with my precious grandson,  I was right where I was supposed to be.

As human beings we long so much to attain a place of security and to remain there. When we draw feelings of self-esteem from any source but the Lord, we will be disappointed. In this life there is no consistency apart from Him. I continue to learn that I am secure only when I find my identity in the Lord. 

Scripture: "I, the Lord, do not change..." Malachi 3:6.


  1. You are in the sandwich generation for sure! Someone once said to me, "Where ever you are, be all there." Good advice. What we have to do can be on a list, and we can be all there for whom we are with.


  2. Goose-bumpy feelings while reading this post. God is SO good to us.