Caretaking is a demanding task. And I think the caretaking of the elderly is beyond demanding. Some caretakers, however, seem to have something within them that equips them to push beyond the exacting requirements of the task. I can’t really claim to be one of those.
Taking care of my 100 year old mother (who still lives in her house, very near mine), while also helping my husband take care of his 96 year old mother (who lives with us) has stretched us to our limits. I told my children the other day that I feel like Bilbo Baggins when he said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Yep, he nailed it.
The other day, I was talking to my oldest daughter and she brought up the term of reframing. We were talking about my frame of mind as I was attempting to fulfill the requirements of caring for my mother and mother in law. My frame of mind tends to focus more on the demands made of me concerning the restrictions to my daily life, and the emotional wear and tear such tasks create.
For the last 4 years, I have prayed and sought God’s strength. His mandate to honor my mother weighed heavy on my heart. Especially, when my words and or attitudes seem to contradict such instruction. But though there were too many days when I failed, I continued to reach out to God for His grace and mercy. My desire was to be a good Christian daughter to my mother. She had taken good care of me as I was growing up and now it was my turn to do the same for her.
Have you noticed my focus, though? Yep, I was at the center of it.
Interesting to me how God introduced the concept of reframing then orchestrated an occasion that revealed what my focus should be. I was talking to the sweet lady who stays with my mom in the evenings. She was sharing with me some very attentive things she had done for my mom that morning. I wanted so much to say something that revealed the depth of my appreciation. Then I believe God gave me this response, “Thank you for being Jesus to my mom.”
I carried that comment with me all day. It became increasingly clear that whatever I did for my mom in the process of caring for her, would be Jesus loving and caring for her through me. I had my reframe! Now my focus was Jesus and carrying out His will as I cared for my mom.
Just putting a different frame around the caretaking task, drew my focus off myself and onto Jesus. Whew, what a relief! What peace! Sad it took me so long to grasp the concept.