How Can I Be A Caregiver?: A Look at Caregiving and Alzheimers DiseaseLinda Lawrence
Clearly Caring Magazine, 3rd Quarter 2009, Vol. 29, No. 3
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles written by Ms. Linda Lawrence that addresses the challenges and blessings in caring for an aging parent. The series will be published in consecutive issues of Clearly Caring throughout 2009 and into 2010.
I love my Lord, and I love solitude. But now the Lord was asking me to bring my mother – who had Alzheimer’s – to live with my husband and me. It was my worst nightmare.
Not that I was sleeping. I could only toss and turn, muffling my sobs and groans with a pillow over my mouth. I can’t do it, Lord. Help me! I vowed to never say ‘No’ to you, but how can I do this? How? The whole night was spent in self-pity and despair.
The next night I tried deep breathing. Lord, breathe on me. Fill me up. I’m going under. There was no provided way of escape. I would have to drink this cup – like it or not.
Mom slept peacefully in the next room, confident God was taking care of her.
Lord, You are asking the impossible. How can I be Mom’s caregiver? She deserves so much more tenderness and compassion than I am able to give her. You know I don’t love well. I can do the loving thing, but I can’t feel loving towards Mom.
Then through the dark fog of despair God took me by the hand back 25 years to another time and place when I had cried out to Him, I can’t go on if You don’t help me love. That memory began easing my despair.
God had responded to that cry by moving obnoxious unlovely people to live next door to me. The feelings of love for them didn’t come until I had exhausted my arguments and finally listened to God’s still small voice telling me to invite them into my life. Acting on obedience only, I reached out to them, and God filled me with feelings of love that literally caused me to burst into singing with amazement, joy and thanksgiving.
I knew God was asking me to trust Him to give me the feelings I needed to obey Him. I wish I could report an overnight change of heart, but in reality it took three years for the transformation to be completed. The days seemed so long while they were being lived, and the victories seemed few and far between. But looking back I am so thankful for God’s patience and perseverance in opening my heart to step by step receive the lessons and blessings my mother was sent to give me.
I love the Lord more than ever, and I still love solitude. But I also dearly love my mother. This is a gift from God.
Linda Lawrence is retired and resides with her husband, Carl, in Corvallis, OR.
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