Sometimes God sends strangers to encourage us. I remember years ago when I brought my mom to the doctor. Her Alzheimer’s was advanced enough that she wasn’t very cooperative and would holler and say things loudly. I often felt like everyone was staring at us when I brought Mom out.
One of those times I remember a woman who continued to watch us. And she came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder and said with passion something like, “You are doing a good job! What you’re doing is important! You can do this!”
This past week we ended up calling 911 because my mother-in-law had a fall. She seemed fine the rest of that day and the next morning, but in the afternoon her behavior continued to concern us. Sometimes it’s hard to discern, when someone has Alzheimer’s, if it’s the disease acting up or if there is pain or something else effecting their behavior. The paramedic said she should be checked out, because a slow bleed could show up after a fall about this time.
Mom was carried to the stretcher as she hollered for help. But before the firetruck left, the fire fighter came back in with two stuffed animals for my grandchildren I was watching that day. And then he smiled at us and said, “You’re doing good! I can tell your mom is well cared for!”
There have been other words of encouragement along the way, but I think my favorite was what my husband heard the other day when he was with his mom in the hospital, visiting with her while waiting for her discharge orders. She’d had no injuries from the fall, but they’d found a slight case of pneumonia and kept her at the hospital for two days.
Because of her Alzheimer’s confusion and her desire to pull out her IV tube and her fall risk, they had an aid in the room with her at all times. The middle-aged African American aid was quiet for awhile observing Jeff as he talked to his mom. And then she said, ” You are so good with your mom. God is going to bless you and your generations to come because of it.”
She added, “He will! He’s going to bless you and your descendants! He sends curses, too. But He’s going to bless you!”
Jeff said, “God is good.”
She answered, “Yes, He is.”
And sometimes after you’ve answered the same question for the tenth time in five minutes, or you’ve cleaned up a floor painted in poo for the second time in a week, or you can’t get anything done because your loved one needs attention — it helps to hear someone say you’re doing a good job.
And what a thought that God may be blessing our grandchildren and future generations because of the way we honor and serve our parents now! I’d love to find a Bible verse that says that! We do know that honoring our parents is the only commandment that comes with the promise of, “Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, NLT)
So fellow caregivers, in case you haven’t personally been encouraged lately, let me say now…you are doing an important thing. I know it’s hard and challenging. Sometimes exhausting and often emotionally draining. Please get as much help as you can.
But never doubt that you are doing a good thing. A right thing. And that you are pleasing God.
“Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.” (I Timothy 5: 3-4, NLT)
Whether you are a caregiver in your own home, supporting a main-caregiver in someone else’s home, or making frequent trips to a caregiving facility to honor and care for someone you love, whatever you do to help “the least of these” you are doing for Jesus! (See Matthew 25:40)
So take a deep breath and carry on, my friends. God sees what you are doing, even if no one else does. Your loved one may no longer be able to appreciate what you’re doing, but God does!
Let’s trust Him for the grace we need and persevere. He is with us. He is good. And He will bless us!