You know those days when you just want to stick your head in the sand and pretend to be invisible? While ostriches actually don’t bury their heads in the sand in real life (it’s just a myth built from an optical illusion), we probably all know people in our lives who sort-of do!
We all have these days from time to time, and most family caregivers certainly have more than their share of challenging days. Perhaps you are caring for an aging parent with advancing dementia who doesn’t even know who you are most days. Maybe your career aspirations suddenly came to a screeching halt when your mom fell and broke a hip, requiring that you be there around the clock to care for her needs. Maybe your dad has cancer that has not responded to treatments and you realize that your mom can’t continue to care for him because it’s gotten to be too much. All of these are very real family caregiver situations that come up at the most inconvenient times, and there are many more.
When you feel like you just can’t handle one more thing, and you want to run away from everything, it’s time to take a few deep breaths and step back from the situation. Take a moment or two to pause, think, pray and breathe. Jesus did this often throughout his ministry, even when everything seemed to be about to come crashing down around Him! God’s son took time regularly to step back, go away for a little while, and focus on the source of His strength and wisdom. Repeatedly in the Gospels we see Jesus slipping away for a period of time to pray, commune with His Heavenly Father, and seek guidance and strength for what lay ahead. (See Mark 14:35, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:16.)
There’s no weakness in needing to take some time to gather yourself, take stock of the situation, collect your thoughts and find your center. This doesn’t make you a groundhog, running and hiding; rather, there is wisdom in taking the time to plan and set your course before you start your journey. Like the eagle, from this place you can look over the entire situation and determine your flight plan. Those few minutes can mean the difference between succumbing to a groundhog’s instinct to duck for cover and achieving the eagle’s majestic soar!
What situations make you want to run for cover? Is it the hurtful words or resistance to care from an aging loved one? Is it criticism from other family members who are always quick to point out where you failed, but never seem to be able to find the time to pitch in and give you a break? Is it feelings of self-inadequacy to meet the care needs of your aging parents? Is it worries about balancing caregiving with nurturing your marriage, family or career?
Whether or not the groundhog sees its shadow this week, life goes on with both good times and bad. We celebrate the good times and, hopefully, we learn from the hard ones. Whatever your circumstance, you can find a way to soar like the eagle if you keep on going. Remember that God will never leave or forsake you, and He will always provide exactly what you need at just the right time. Through prayer, scripture study, conversations with trusted friends and advisors, or even a few minutes of solitude and quiet time, you can find the courage to continue through your caregiving journey.
Betsy and I hope you will join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how you soar above difficult days.