It’s fair to say that Jesus was the greatest Physician Who lived.
As a counselor, He also gave spot-on advice. He traveled and mingled with mobs of people.
He took time for children. He reached out to the underdogs and those shunned by society.
He ate with publicans. He dined with sinners.
He was bombarded by people who wanted the food and the miracles He performed – people who could care less about a relationship with Him.
He was divine, but He was also human. Scripture tells us that He was tempted just like we are.
Just like us.
That means He got tired. And weary.
Since He was human, He had to get tired of being around crowds. Some days He certainly grew weary of people.
There were days He had to get away from the crowd to get some rest.
One day He even told His disciples that they should “come apart and rest awhile.”
Why? Why couldn’t they draw on His strength and just keep going?
As a caregiver, Jesus needed to take care of Himself.
And so, my friends, do we.
When we’re plagued with problems and questions, there is one place we should go to find resolution and answers. We ought to go to none other than Jesus, our great Physician.
From His example, there are things we can learn.
It’s true that we are called to serve others.
We are also called to seek His kingdom first. He asks us to take time for Him.
That means our relationship with Jesus is paramount. It is especially important when we are the ones who are the givers.
Whether you are a caretaker of little ones with special needs or older parents, whether you are in full-time ministry or helping out part-time, you need, first of all, to take care of the person you are. This means you need to take care of your body and your soul.
No matter in what type of caregiving you find yourself, there are some things that you can do to help your body and your soul stay well.
There’s a healthy way to be a caregiver. During busy seasons, it is especially important to be healthy in our caregiving.
Lower your expectations and help the person for whom you are caring to do the same. You will be safer that way. Remember that you can’t be all things to all people. The person for whom you are caring needs to be willing to allow you time away, whether it’s to take a shower or to spend time alone with Jesus.
Practice saying, “I need to take time with Jesus. I will be back in ___ minutes.”
Then go spend that time – and be back when you say you will. You as the caregiver – and the family member who is being cared for – will find security and safety is knowing the boundaries.
As our parents become older, there are times when our roles reverse. Sometimes this happens with a spouse. Our parent(s) become our child(ren), our spouse becomes childlike, and we become the adults. If this is your situation, move into that role without guilt. It is the way to have your parent(s) or spouse be safe. Our care needs, of course, to be respectful. We should not fight the change of roles that are necessary to keep our loved ones safe.
Setting up boundaries is playing it safe. It’s a way to take care of yourself. If you need a nap, take one. Let your family member know that you need the rest, then take it. If your mind relaxes when you have time to read, pick up a book and read, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
Another way to play it safe is to ask others to help you. I understand that sometimes this can’t happen easily. The truth is, many times caregivers could take a respite if they didn’t think that no one else can do it right.
It is also true that sometimes family members don’t offer to help because they fear that they can’t do it to suit the main caregiver.
When you as a caregiver are rested and not frustrated, your loved one will receive better care. Is that not what you really want? Then play it safe by being safe.
For places in your area where you can get additional help, click here.
Be Steady. This means you need to stay balanced. Remember to mingle. Be in fellowship with others, whether at church or at a Bible study. You need God’s people around you, so don’t become a hermit.
Don’t hibernate and don’t become a martyr.
Perhaps folks from your church can volunteer to stay with your loved one so you can get out and go to church. You can teach them what might need to be done for an hour or two while you are gone.
If you can’t leave your home, then ask folks to come bring Worship to you.
Any pastor or church worth its salt will be happy to do this for you.
Your walk with Jesus will be steady if you stay steady with family, friends, and church.
Spend time feeding your soul each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Close your eyes and talk to Jesus while you’re sitting by the bed of your loved one or rocking a needy child.
Even when you think there is no use to read a few verses because you’ll never be able to focus or you’ll never remember what you read, do it. You are inoculating yourself against the devil’s scheme to tear down your relationship with Jesus. It might be milk and not meat, but it’s nourishment, and it will keep you from becoming spiritually dehydrated.
All of us need a steady diet of Jesus and the Word – and when we’re giving all day long, it’s especially important to make sure our diet is healthy and steady so we will have the spiritual energy to give.
Be served. Allow others to help you. Ask them for help. Keep a list of things that need to be done, whether it’s a repair at your place or something that needs to be taken care of in town.
Then when someone says, “If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know,” let them know!
Say, “Actually, since you asked, I do need ______. Could you take care of doing this or find someone to do it if you can’t?”
Dave and I enjoy helping folks. We especially enjoy helping when we know it’s something they need and we’re not just guessing whether this is really helpful.
Allow the church to be the body of Christ to you. I can’t count the number of times we’ve offered to help someone and found out later that they struggled to get something accomplished alone just because they were not willing to ask.
Let the Church experience what it means to bear each other’s burdens You’ll get the chance to pass it on by helping others someday, so don’t deprive people of this blessing now. Don’t forget that we are members of each other.
Allow the Body to hurt with you Allow the Body to serve you. We belong to each other.
There are many organizations that can assist with caregiving (and some of them are free of charge). Find those organizations or people. Ask around. Someone is bound to know someone who can help you get what you need.
You don’t really have to do it all yourself. You don’t need to become a martyr.
Network your way. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help if they only know the need.
As you face each new day as a caregiver, remember that taking care of yourself is the foundation by which you can serve and give to others.
Don’t forget to be Safe, be Steady, and be Served.
If you know someone who is a caregiver, what are you doing to make sure they are safe, steady, and served?
Have you asked, “What can I do to help you this week?”
There is always, always something that we can do to help.
When we truly care and really want to help, we will find a way.
Ask me how I know!