Showing posts with label emotional distress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label emotional distress. Show all posts

Grace for Today

ronella and chris hugging each other

I don't want to brag, but I can go from I'm okay, I've got this to the depths of emotional despair on a dime. Is that just me? The day is rocking along. I'm in control. I've got it, getting things done. And then Bam! Out of seemingly nowhere a thought, a photo, a song, a memory, a whatever else - snaps my emotions in two. I'm wiping tears from my eyes, thankful for the memory, but wondering why.

I have a feeling it is very common among caregivers. Even though our journeys tend to be widely different, they often lead us along similar emotional paths. We are good one minute and not - the next. 

That's why I love His grace so much. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul was whining. Don't tell them I said so, but apostles seem to be a whiney lot. (LOL - lighten up!) He did not like what he was going through. As a matter of fact, he admitted to asking God three times to remove it from him. God did not. 

Paul begged God to remove his "thorn in the flesh" - his discomfort, his emotional pain, his bondage. While Paul didn't get the answer he wanted, he did get an answer. God explained, My grace is sufficient. What a loaded statement! Right? 

If I'm honest, there are some days (not too many of them really) that I just don't like caregiving. I would enjoy the freedom of heading out for a hike or just the ability to jump and run to the store if I need to. I've forgotten what it's like to call a friend and see if they wanna grab a cup of coffee or a quick meal. Most days - I'm good with it. I've adjusted. I don't "need" all that. But every once in a while normal raises its head and longs to be a part of my day. Those days, I need a bit more grace. I'm more prone to tears and battle depression a bit more on those types of days. Do you? Maybe it's just me.

No matter what a day piles on our (already full) plates, God's grace is enough to match it. I imagine it a bit like an old cowboy poker game. Someone raises the bid - the stakes of the game. Everyone has the choice of folding - or staying in the game. But instead of us making the choice - when life raises the ante - God says - I see that and I'll raise you two more. No matter what kind of hand we are given on any given day - His grace covers the stakes. I like that. There's a bit of comfort in that - knowing that the stakes can't be raised so high that He folds or gives up. He just keeps covering it all with His grace.

Today, I will make His grace my meditation. Hebrews 4:16 in the New Living Translation says when we come boldly to His throne of mercy - we find grace to help in time of need. I'm going to lean in to Him a bit more today and let (that's a BIG action word) - His grace cover and carry me. Will you join me?

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Got a Dump Truck?

me and chris at the park

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you have a dump truck full of emotions? You're just looking for someplace to back up to and dump it all out, right? Today, for whatever reason, I feel that way. My emotions are over the top and I just don't want to do anything - but I want to do everything - all at once. I'm guessing it's just part of the caregiver's fog. lol

What's awesome about God is my crazy thoughts and whirlwind emotions don't scare Him away. Unlike people, He won't avoid me when I'm running full throttle toward nothing in particular. Instead, He patiently waits until I'm ready to dump it all at His feet. Then, once I do - His peace will fill the void left behind.

But sometimes, it takes a long time to get to the place where you can pour out your heart before Him. (Psalm 62:8) Maybe it's because there aren't the exact words needed to express what we are feeling. Maybe there is just too much to put into a few words or sentences, or even paragraphs. And maybe sometimes, it's just that we can't put our finger on it - whatever it is. We are stuck.

Yet He waits patiently. He waits as the emotional dump truck becomes fuller and fuller and fuller. He waits as it begins to topple over the top of the rails and falls like tears to the ground. He waits until we can't bear it anymore... He waits for us to back that dump truck up and dump it all out at His feet. Maybe it's frustration. Perhaps it's fear. For some of us, it's overwhelm. For many, it's cares that get heavier and heavier.

No matter what it is for each of us - He is patient. He doesn't have a list of exclusions - you know - things He doesn't want to hear about. God doesn't ever say - I don't want to hear another word about it - He longs for us to be to the place where we can back that dump truck up and pour it all out. Even if we can't sort it all out - He can do it for us. He knows what goes where and welcomes our hearts in any shape. He's even glad we come.

Today, as I back this emotion-filled dump truck up to His feet and try to start dumping it out - I will be thankful that he listens. I'll be grateful that He wants it all - and doesn't want me to try to handle it all on my own. I'll try not to sort it all out before giving it to Him. Instead, I'll just hand it all to Him in one motion - and wait for His peace to take its place as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Bible Caregivers

 

Aunt Polly and me in the car

As the year draws to an end and I start setting new goals for the upcoming year, I spent time this morning praying and thinking about this blog in particular. I feel like I have failed you, my fellow caregivers, by not being more consistent in posting. That's one thing on my list - to post consistently! I'm working on a time each week where I can set down with coffee or tea in hand and write a week's worth at a time. I prefer writing them every morning, but logistically that doesn't always work out. :-) 

So, I was thinking about taking topics and expanding them out. That led me down a series of thoughts about the caregivers in the Bible. While I've just started compiling a list I came up with these few off the top of my head:

  • Abraham and Isaac
  • David and Mephibosheth
  • Hagar and Ishmael
  • Joseph and his dad and brothers
I thought, man, those are some great ones to start with! These are some of our favorite Bible heroes, but we don't often think of them as "caregivers," do we? Yet each of them cared for another person in one way or another. Maybe their situations were very different than ours. But then, each of our situations is very different anyway! Some of us care for aging parents, but I have many caregiver friends who care for special needs children and special needs adults.

Any way you slice it, caregiving isn't an easy task. There are so many emotions involved from any angle. When we care for parents or other elderly family members there's a role reversal that takes an emotional toll. Caring for adult children who are "supposed" to grow up and move out has a totally different weight. And caring for a child with disabilities has emotional challenges of a totally different nature. So we can look at each of the caregivers in the Bible and glean something from their experiences, right?

Abraham laid his son (promise, future, hope) on the altar. That'll preach. Hagar was distraught worrying about Ishmael's survival. We have likely each faced this emotional challenge on one level or another as we've advocated on their behalf. Joseph sent for his dad and family and provided for them during a difficult famine. And David had Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son who has disabled, come to his palace so he could care for him. I'm sure he provided staff to take care of Mephibosheth, but nonetheless, Mephibosheth lived in the palace under David's protective hand.

Each of these characters shows us a picture of strength, faith, courage, hope, and trust in God. Those are things we can hold on to and use to encourage ourselves as we face difficult and not-quite-as-difficult days. One thing we can be sure of is that God is the caregiver for us all. That's foundational - and worth building on.

Today, I will meditate on God's care for my soul. I will think about these caregivers (and others) from the Bible and consider how they each leaned on God for their soul's survival. I'll lean my heart a little closer to His today as I trust Him for direction for myself and my caregivee. Will you join me?

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Making the "But" Shift

Chris in the mirror
I know it's no surprise that I woke up this morning with my head going 900 miles an hour. Since I took the weekend off and that's when I do a bulk of my work and play catch-up, I am way behind. As soon as my alarm went off my head thought it was the start of a race and took off running with all the things I need to get done today.

Today is sure to be "one of those days" as the aide comes, the nurse informed me yesterday that she's coming by, and the doctor's office called yesterday to let me know they changed my son's doctor (again!) so the new one will be coming by today. I'm like really? All in one day and I'm so behind in work! ugh! You know as caregivers, days are hectic enough without any extras. lol

So as my mind took off running with all the anticipated activities for today, I sighed. I think I'm already tired. But then I thought I'd just stop. Take a breath. Take a moment to think about Him and praise Him - for no specific reason other than the fact that He is still God and He doesn't change.

When I did, this shift happened. I relaxed, even though I still have tons of stuff to do, and everything settled down around me. The shift was very apparent. I immediately thought of Psalm 3. David was worried about all the enemies he saw gathering around him - and while we don't have physical enemies most of the time, we do have emotional ones that nag and tug at us all day long. Our thoughts, emotions, grief, pain etc - can try to drag us down and under all day long, if we let them. Our souls can be surrounded by enemies.

David acknowledged his enemies - but then he made the shift. It happened with a little three-letter word. But. He said, but You O Lord are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head. He does the same thing in Psalm 5. He is praying for protection from his enemies and he shifts in verse 11 with a but. But, let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love your name may exult in You, for it is You who blesses the righteous man O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.

There are several other psalms where David does this. Once we, like David, shift our focus from our circumstances and back to God - with that little "but," we change. Maybe our circumstances are not directly changed and not one thing in the natural rearranges to accommodate us, but we are looking at it from a different perspective.

Today, I'm going to make that shift. Every time my workload starts to get to me, I am going to start praising God for who He is. I'll thank Him for His patience, His wisdom, His protection, His provision... and so on. I'm making the "but" shift today as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

One More Time

I have to admit this morning that my emotions are all over the place. I'll spare you the details and just say there's a lot going on. We've discussed before that we are not exempt from the rest of life just because we are caregivers. So suffice it to say - I'm on overload....as usual.

Yesterday as I started realizing how much was going on around me, my head started spinning with thoughts. I've admitted before I'm an over-thinker. Someone makes one statement and I've worked through 900 scenarios in my head that could possibly happen. Sometimes it's annoying. :-)

So with lots and lots of different things making my head swirl, I heard my heart cry out to Him last night. In my mind I'm standing before Him with hands outstretched just waiting for some sort of answer. There's not really one answer that will make everything better and I think I just needed to be reminded that He hears my heart. I just needed to know it one more time.

As caregivers, we can live in overload mode (or maybe that's just me!). We need the comfort of His voice, His gentle nudge letting us know He is still with us, He still cares, and He still hears our heart's cry.

I crawled out of bed this morning and drug my emotional self in to search the scriptures for a glimmer of hope; and of course - He met me there. He has this way of showing up when He's invited. I started with Psalm 18 where David so eloquently describes what we hope God does when we call out to Him. He says he called out to God and he prayed for help and my cry reached His ears. (v.6 NLT) And God showed up.

Then the earth quaked and trembled;
the foundations of the mountains shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from His nostrils,
fierce flames leaped from His mouth
glowing coals flamed forth from Him.
He opened the heavens and came down.....

So I waited this morning for the earth to begin to shake as my heart cried out in anguish. Nothing. I got nothing. So I searched a little further to find that David also had moments like these. In Psalm 22 he describes it pretty well by saying:

My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why do you remain distant?
Why do you ignore my cries for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. 
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

I love it when God comes riding in on His white horse to rescue us. But what about the times when He doesn't? In both of these Psalms - David went on to praise the Lord. Immediately following his distressed cries in Psalm 22, David says, Yet you are holy.  I cried God - and you didn't listen! I called out and You walked away! I did not get the answer I wanted.....but I know You are holy.

And by the end of Psalm 22 he is singing God's praise:

I will declare the wonders of Your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among all Your people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear Him!

Why? David knew, like we know deep down - God has not abandoned. In Psalm 22:24 David goes on to say: He has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.

Today I will follow this righteous example. Whether God comes riding in on thunderous clouds, or remains silent in my distress, I will praise Him. My thoughts and meditations will be on His goodness. I will keep myself hidden in Him today and I will trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Digging Down Deep

Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason for the way caregivers feel. A day can be going along fine and our routine normal and then out of nowhere comes a wave of emotions or depression. Some days I wake up and am overcome by the mere thoughts of the day's tasks that lie ahead. Today is one of those days. How can I be tired before I even get started? And how can I be running behind before one task is done? I don't know. It can be difficult to determine  the exact cause of emotional distress. No matter what lies behind it, it must be worked through to finish the day's tasks.

Days like this are simply tiring but I'm afraid caregivers have many of them. How do we find encouragement and strength to get through the day and get everything done? No one is going to give us a day off! That's for sure. We find ourselves needing to dig down deep to encourage ourselves to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

David found himself in a position where he was all alone and his world had crumbled around him. He was fighting on the wrong side of the war with soldiers who didn't trust his motives so he was excluded. His wives were missing and he was trying to find a way to encourage himself in the Lord. He was in a position to dig down deep and find a way to make it through. Sometimes it feels like everyday is like that.

Today no matter how deep we have to dig, there is a way to find encouragement to make it through. Personally, my first thought is that He is with me. My mind goes to Psalm 46:1 where the psalmist says that God is a very present help in time of trouble. Verse 7 of this same psalm reminds us that the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jakob is our stronghold. I remind myself that He has been with me for the entirety of this caregiving journey and He's not going anywhere!

Not only is He with me - He is carrying me on days when I feel like I can't go another step. He is a stronghold where I can hide from the storm until I catch my breath. But He also has a strong hold on me and my heart.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He has a hold on me and He's not letting go! I will turn my thoughts to His presence and the fact that He will remain with me through the toughest days and nights - and He has no where else to go! My heart will rejoice because He has my back and He gives me strength for the day. Will you join me today?

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...