At this time of year, we are surrounded by lies! If you buy this toy for your child, he or she will be smarter, or more creative, or at least happier on Christmas morning! If you get a particular credit card, you will have a lower interest rate and be able to buy more stuff you probably don’t need anyway! If you purchase a specific brand of appliance or drive a particular make of car, you will be popular and successful at your job and more attractive (think famous actor here). If you eat a certain type of food or consume that special beverage, your life will be so much better! You’ll be skinnier, fitter, stronger, better looking, and stress-free! Who wouldn’t want all of that, right? But most of the claims are simply not true. They’re just there to get you to put more money into someone else’s pocket.
During the Christmas Season, even some of the most beautiful and sacred stories get twisted a bit by lies of omission. For example, we only want to see the precious baby Jesus in a lovely manger with angels standing by. We don’t look at the reality of a stark, cold, smelly stable, complete with manure and dirt. There was hunger. There was danger. And there was fear and uncertainty. It was anything but pleasant. We just don’t like to talk about that part very much.
So, what is your truth about your role as a family caregiver? And what do you tell yourself, day after day, that isn’t really true? How can you overcome the negative feelings and find gifts of positivity and truth amid the turmoil and stress of the bright lights and pretty trappings of the holiday season?
Perhaps you chose to be a family caregiver, and you embrace every opportunity with an attitude of joy and gratitude. Maybe the role was thrust upon you by circumstances beyond your control. Whichever situation is your truth, there are sights, sounds, smells, and various messy things that you will face. At times you will almost assuredly feel totally unequipped for your daily responsibilities. It isn’t pretty, any more than that smelly, dirty stable in Bethlehem was. The Holy Family’s circumstances probably seemed less than beautiful to them in those hours. They were terrified and overwhelmed, but God sent help. There were shepherds, wise men, and others who came to experience the glory of the newborn Christ Child. Somehow, the circumstances surrounding his birth suddenly became manageable and glorious.
In the same way, when the stress and hardships of your circumstances become your truth, you need to stop being the Lone Ranger and find someone to help out, or at least to better equip you for your current role. The journey a family caregiver travels is not easy. Still, there are many resources you can turn to when you feel like you are losing hope. Community or church-based support groups, respite care options, and emotional support from friends and family can all help. Look for your own shepherds and wise men to help guard, guide, and equip you with the resources you need. To find a support group near you, do a Google search for “caregiver support group (name of your community here).”
You can also find help at www.CaregiverStress.com, a website developed by Home Instead Senior Care to support family caregivers.
Here is the truth: God will provide a way. He always does! Betsy and I hope you’ll join the conversation this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about the truth of being a family caregiver this Christmas.