How to Find Grace for Caregiving
- Monday, February 09, 2009
Face the realities of your heart and tongue. The demands of caregiving strip down your soul to reveal what’s really on your heart. If you find yourself thinking and saying things that aren’t healthy or pleasing to God, you can take some simple steps to change your outlook. Magnify God by praising Him daily for who He is and all He has done. When you develop this habit, you’ll notice more of what He’s up to in your life on a regular basis. Express appreciation for God’s blessings in your life and for what other people do for you. Reinforce biblical truth by making the Bible – not your personality, opinions, preferences, or comfort level – the standard for your attitudes and behavior. Intercept negativity by refraining from speaking negative words if there’s no good purpose for doing so. Evaluate your motives before interacting with the loved one you care for and speaking to others about your caregiving service. If you recognize greed, self-service, martyrdom, self-protection, or pride lurking in your motives, confess it, and ask God to change your heart.
Deal with guilt. Ask God to help you discern whether the guilt you feel as a caregiver is true or false guilt. True guilt stems from an offense that you’re responsible for and gives you an urge to confess and repent of the sin that caused the offense. False guilt stems from self-condemnation or the weight of trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Fight false guilt by asking God to help you see yourself as He sees you and break free from a sense of condemnation. Also, make sure that you’re taking care of your own health while you care for your loved one. Get enough rest, respite, medical attention, sleep, exercise, time in prayer and Bible reading, and time with friends. Eat a healthy diet. Set your priorities in ways that protect the time you need to nurture yourself as you nurture your loved one.
Build boundaries. Setting boundaries in your relationships with others will protect you and foster a healthy sense of respect in your relationships. Negotiate clearly what you can and cannot do as a caregiver. Don’t feel guilty about protecting your own needs; you can’t take good care of your loved one if you don’t first take good care of yourself. If your loved one is still mentally alert and capable of making wise decisions for himself or herself, be sure to give your loved one as much autonomy as possible. If your loved one is hurting himself, herself, or others by making unhealthy decisions, however, it’s your responsibility to work out better decisions. Negotiate with your loved one to arbitrate difficult circumstances. Prepare, pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, and look for options. Show concern and respect for your loved one in the process. Try to understand your loved one’s concerns, desires, needs, limitations, and fears. Search for creative solutions together through prayer and by evaluating options objectively and reasonably. Seek the best interests of your loved one and do all you can to build a relationship of mutual respect. Listen carefully to the thoughts and feelings your loved one expresses, ask questions, avoid judgments, and show empathy, and take your loved one’s concerns seriously. Be honest, speaking the truth in loving ways and doing what’s right in every caregiving situation you encounter. Establish clear expectations within your family so everyone will know how they should act and what consequences will occur if they overstep boundaries.
Give grace to others. Thank God for giving you grace every day by extending grace to others whenever you can. Ask God to help you see past people’s faults to the people God intends them to be. Forgive people when they hurt or offend you. Encourage them however you can. Affirm them instead of judging them. Speak positive words that communicate hope. Be especially graceful to the loved one you’re caring for, as he or she especially needs encouragement to deal with health challenges.
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