Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Caregiver's Report Card

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord,
and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord
ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance:
for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:24

There are times when we can feel so overwhelmed in our role as caregiver. The frustrations, the interruptions and the confusion can lead us to some real hair pulling. I think what is most difficult for "outsiders" to see and understand is that we are not frustrated at the person. We are not mad at the one we care for. It is the constancy of need. The increasing work and tiring days and nights.

My husband is not usually in pain. His legs sometimes ache at night, but he's not a complainer and a lot of times, I never know that he's been awake for hours, hurting, until the next morning. Having my Dear Hubby in bed moaning and hurting, has been difficult for me to watch these past few days.

As he has called my name, I have felt true compassion for him. I know he is hurting and I want to make him comfortable. While there may be nothing to ease his pain at that moment, I can know that I am meeting a need as best as I can.

We may not be able to take away their pain and discomfort. We may not be able to adjust them in the hospital bed and get it just right. We may walk away from them, knowing that they have not had their need met just perfectly, but we can rest assured that if we have done our best, then that is all that really matters.

I remember as a child, coming home with my report card. In elementary school and most of Jr. High, I really didn't do well in school. I don't know what the reason was, maybe I was just a late bloomer. I was discouraged by one particular report card, and was really dreading showing it to my mom. As I handed it to her, I hung my head. She read over it and asked me what had happened. Like most kids, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know." She asked me if I had done my best at school. I thought it over and while I did think of some work that I could have done better, overall, I really had tried and had done my best.

She looked me in the eyes and said, "All I expect from you is that you do your best. If this is the best you can do, then I am proud of you." What gives a mother wisdom like that? An intuition and direction from the Lord? I felt a renewed sense of pride. While that may sound a bit naive.....I was satisfied with my best. I would never be as smart as my brother, but I had learned to try. And I had learned to accept my limitations.

You must understand what happened to me during that next semester. I tried really hard. My mom expected my best. She would be satisfied with my best, regardless of how I compared to others. I did bring my grades up just a bit, but I never did have a report card with mostly A's and some B's until high school.

I've thought about this same idea when it comes to my life of serving my husband in his time of chronic illness. Am I doing my best? I mean, what are my goals in caregiving? Is it that my husband will always be comfortable? That I will run when he calls my name? That I will meet each challenge with a smile on my face?

No, my goal will be to do my best. If I look back over my caregiving, I see times where I felt like such a looser. I had a bad attitude, I grumbled and complained, and whined a bit. Was I the perfect caregiver? Did I have a great attitude? Did I do my best?

Well, maybe it's kinda like me and the report card.....maybe there were some areas where I could have tried harder and done a better job, but honestly, at the time, I really did do my best. It's hard to be giving when you are drained emotionally, physically and mentally.

I can't go back and change those report cards, but I can know this: My heavenly Father looks at me with eyes of understanding, deeper than any mother could possibly have. He made me. He knows me.

Psalm 103:13 and 14 says, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."

Paula's Paraphrase: But as a father loves deeply, has tender affection and compassion on his child, so our Father in Heaven loves, has tender affection and compassion on His children...those who reverence Him. He knows and perceives our purpose, our form, who we are; He remembers that we are just dry earth, dust and ashes. He understands my weaknesses and limitations.

If I could have done better at the time, I probably would have. That's what I remind myself of. As a caregiver we are growing and changing. We are learning and adjusting. There have been times when I have thrown my hands up in the air in frustration, but I'm not going to go back there and relive those times. I'm going to go back to my role as caregiver and do the best that I can today.

I'm so grateful that it is the Lord I must answer to. I've been bought by the blood of Christ and that is what my Father sees. Sure, I have to deal with my shortcomings, my anger, my hurt feelings for what they really are: sin. But the past can be forgiven, it already's under the blood. And, today, I can face my Father in Heaven and say, "Here is my report card on caregiving. I've done the best I can. And by your grace, tomorrow, I will trust You to work in my life and help me to do a bit better."

In the classroom of caregiving, there is no comparing. We can't look around and say, "He or she is doing so much better than I am." Our Father sees us individually and deals with us individually. Rest in His hands, and remember, He is your Father who loves deeply and has compassions that do not fail.

1 comment: TN said...

That's what I needed to hear today. That I am doing the best I can do. Thank you for that post. I wish I were as good with words.