Friday, May 29, 2015


I feel so guilty.

I haven't accomplished very much for quite awhile.  I have failed to receive an acceptable score on the all-American litmus test of self worth; how much did you get done today?

And...I procrastinate. I sometimes feel almost paralyzed.  I find myself sitting when I should be painting the hallway or cleaning the upstairs bathroom. 

This evening I finally geared up to do that paint job when I felt the Lord's nudge to pray.  I opened my heart to God, and this thought came: "Look at what you have endured today."

In the morning my father-in-law was hospitalized with chest pains.  When we knew he was stable, my husband and I drove to the nursing home we've chosen for Mom and delivered our doctor's prescription for adult daycare.  We made tentative plans to bring Mom to the facility one afternoon next week.  As a transition strategy we will utilize daycare as needed until the time we can no longer care for her at home.

I've been Mom's primary caregiver for eleven years.

After all this, I came home and I sat. And as I sat, the push to accomplish things attacked; I felt an overwhelming need to fortify my self-worth with visible signs of tasks completed.  But the emotional paralysis was stronger, and so I just sat and felt guilty for doing so. I know it will seem unlikely to those who read these words, but I had no idea that the trauma of my father-in-law's health crisis or the grief of our decision to transition mom to nursing home care was impacting me at all.

As caregivers we have to become skilled at separating ourselves from our emotions; it's a survival tactic, but we need to be careful not to carry this strategy too far. Until I quieted myself before the Lord I had not connected the guilt I feel over Mom with my deer-in-the-headlights immobility.  I condemned myself for not accomplishing household chores when the actual source of my guilt has to do with my mother. And I need to clarify that not all of my shame is false guilt. I am heart-weary, and am no longer dependably able to be kind to Mom when she is unkind to me. I've spoken some pretty harsh words to her. 

It's good to bring this guilt to the Lord's light, because in His light I can see that in making plans for her future, I'm only doing what is best for Mom. And if what is best for her is also best for me, I shouldn't feel guilty.

But I do.

As caregivers we suffer guilt that comes from sin, because it is impossible to be perfect toward our care recipients 100% of the time.  But we also suffer false guilt, accusations launched at us from the devil, who hates us and wants us miserable (and would rather we cleaned a closet than come before the Lord to be washed clean of sin and freed from the enemy's lies).

Here are two Scriptures that come to mind, solace that offers true healing as opposed to slapping a band-aid labeled "look-at-all-I've-accomplished" over my buried guilt:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9 NIV).  Father forgive me for the unkind words I've spoken to Mom.  Forgive me when I've been unable to turn the other cheek. Forgive me when I've acted uncaring.  Help me to be dependable in loving Mom with Your love. 

"Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things" (1 John 3:10-20 The Voice). Father, thank You for understanding how battered my heart feels. Thank You for soothing my injuries with Your healing balm. Thank You for loving me when I can't love myself. Thank You for holding me in Your arms while I cry.  I praise Your Name.  

If you've been feeling guilty and overwhelmed of late, this comes with a prayer that you can quiet yourself before the Lord and allow Him to show you the sins He will freely forgive and the heartaches He is willing to heal.  


  1. Have just accidentally deleted a warm and supportive comment from Vee over at Pay her a visit--you will love her blog.

  2. Here is Vee's comment, cut and pasted from my email comment notification:
    The mind-numbing weariness...I understand that. Saying a prayer for your father-in-law, you, your husband, and your mom. Comfort, peace, and healing for all in each area that needs His touch. Be very gentle with yourself, Linda. Treat yourself the way you would treat a daughter or a dear friend. If you need tea, drink some soothing chamomile. Watch tv programming that blesses you...I nearly overdosed on Larkrise to Candleford. Take a little walk, buy or cut some flowers, call a friend. I know you pray! Sending love...

  3. My dearest Linda, you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I am also in the same situation that you are in with your mother. I too have been looking into nursing homes and meeting with an elder attorney to get my parents finances in order. Dad is 97 and recently fell, hit his head and ended up getting staples in his head. He is recovering from his fall and doing better. Mom lives with me but her double incontinence is taking a toll on me. I feel so guilty even considering putting mom in a nursing home but I realize that I can't do it all any more. Your post was encouraging to me. I have to do what is best for mom and I believe that placing her in a home where she will have full care 24/7 is what will be best for her eventually. I want to love on my mother but sometimes it is so difficult when you are constantly cleaning up messes. I too have made unkind remarks. It just kills me that I could turn to such dark thoughts and have such self loathing. Thank you for reminding us that we can turn to God and ask for forgiveness and healing.

    1. Celia, thank you SO much for your thoughts and prayers, you have mine! I prayed as I wrote this post that it would find its way to someone who could be encouraged by the comfort the Lord has provided here--so thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Hugs and prayers, Linda

  4. Oh, Linda! I certainly can identify with hanging onto feelings of guilt. I have identified my problem as not trusting completely in the finished work on the cross. I oftentimes forget to preach the gospel to myself daily.

    I'm so sorry you are dealing with so much heartache at this season of life. It would seem unbelievably overwhelming if it were not for the knowledge that a kind God rules over all.

    I will be praying for you, Linda.

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Georgene. The Lord has placed you on my heart so that I pray for you in little moments throughout my day as various life responsibilities remind me of issues you have written about at your blog. God bless and keep you.

  5. I'm so sorry Linda, uncertainty is sometimes harder for us to face, than certainty. I do have to say when I read your state of mind, I had pretty much figured out it was because of your mother and father in law. I think sometimes people can read us better than we can ourselves. Praying for your situation my dear. You are loved and appreciated. ~ Abby

    1. Abby, thank you. From the very heart of me, thank you.