“I am not a caregiver,” I said. Every head whipped around and looked at me as if I were loony. We were in the van on our way home from church. The conversation roamed from this to that and somehow got around to caregiving. The van’s occupants all live in the same Independent Living facility as I do and they see how I conduct my life. So they thought it odd that I would make such a contradictory statement.
An explanation is in order. Except for the care of immediate family, I cannot care for others because I can actually feel their pain. This I learned very young. I caught a boatload of fish, but the fish were in pain. So I turned the boat over and released them in the hope that they’d recover. I haven’t fished since.
So what were my church-going friends thinking? Perhaps they were thinking about yesterday when I walked through our maze-like hallways to visit someone who is sick. She was sleeping, so I just stayed there for a long time and prayed. When her son entered the room, I left and walked the halls for exercise. I encountered another resident and we chatted for a while. Further on, I came upon someone who was lost.
I’ve come to realize that even when I’m just walking, there is a potential to do something that ministers to others.
We’re all made differently. Every day, I wake up excited: Can I be a blessing to God or to His children today? Whether I stay in my apartment or take a walk or whatever, His itinerary for me is always fulfilling.
I’m looking forward to another year of being productive for Him.
There is another aspect to my God-given empathy, however. I receive so many negative reports, that they could outweigh the joy I’m experiencing in life. There is no way this tiny 81-year-old can carry all the pain. I have to constantly give it to Him.
I’m frequently overwhelmed with the strength and care and love of God for me. And His love for each one of us is equally great. If we could have just a sliver of that in our lives for whomever He puts in our path, it would help.
I do not live in the flow of excitement and busy-ness of so many others; even of my own younger days. Now, I am content to be what I am. Even when I catch a bug, I’m content. We can talk about happiness: yes, there are times of great happiness. But 90% of the time, it’s joy, not happiness. Joy is experiencing His deep-rooted peace in all circumstances. The joy of God and His peace are His greatest gift to me. Happiness is an occasion short-lived. Joy is knowing that you are in the right place at the right time by His will.
We live in a world of feelings. “If it feels good, do it.” Fine. Feelings are an important way for us to receive guidance. Our ability to correctly interpret feelings must be called into question, though. One might feel that this is not a good situation, causing you to run from it. But character would have you stay put and see the situation through to the outcome. It’s hard, but in the long run, it’s worth it.
On the other hand, you may feel it’s a bad situation and run from it – and this could be a good decision because the outcome could have been destructive for you.
The point is that we can’t go by our feelings because we’re not always right in our interpretation of them.
I avoid this problem by taking time to be alone with Him; to know who He is, because He’s God in me. I spend time to know His thoughts and not my thoughts. If I ask Him for guidance, He answers me.
For all of my life, I’ve taken time. I think of war-torn Europe and how God gave me peace while I walked through it. I’ve had the privilege of being underprivileged; of not having parents and having no one else to turn to but Him. This always energizes me and gives me confidence. His way ultimately will be for His glory and my best.
I have been blessed with so many friends for whom I would lay down my life, and who would do the same for me. One of the God-directed ways I got my friends was by being interested in what’s happening deeply inside them.
At the same time, I have never truly shared what’s deep in me. Perhaps that’s what ElderBlog is for. We’ll see how He directs me.