Lately, I’ve spent a fair amount of time with an individual who has really been struggling with anxiety. I have noticed myself feeling rather irritated with what appears to be ridiculous behavior, and my patience has begun to run thin. I have felt so annoyed on more than one occasion that it took everything within me just to keep my mouth shut. I was praying for God just to help me to be nice.
And then one day, it hit me. This was ME in the past! I closed my eyes and put myself back in time to remember for a moment how anxiety had once crippled me. I was so controlled by fear that I could hardly function. It was controlling me until…
Until what you ask? Until I completely surrendered everything to God. The moment I did that, I experienced tremendous peace. I learned that nothing in this lifetime would separate me from God’s love. Nothing could happen to me or my loved ones that would ever destroy my eternal hope. Romans 8:38-39. And lest you think that my anxiety was miraculously gone forever, let me be the first to say that it still creeps in from time to time and I must deliberately hand it back over to God... AGAIN...and AGAIN...and AGAIN!
I suddenly realized that I had been missing the opportunity to show someone else how to surrender to God amid crippling fear. I felt ashamed that my approach had been one of irritation. Knowing it is never too late, I searched back in my phone at all the bible verses I had bookmarked on fear and anxiety and I started to write them down for this person on note cards. These verses had been a healing balm to my mind; they healed me over time. It was now my responsibility to not keep that to myself but to share it with someone else who needed it. And when I finally did just that, this person was so grateful. It’s going to be a process with this individual because trusting God amid fear takes time to learn and we never arrive at perfection in this lifetime. I know I must check my attitude each day and choose to see people the way Jesus sees me.
What about you? What lesson have you learned that could help someone else? Are you feeling annoyed or are you seeing people through eyes of compassion?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 ESV.
One of the most useful approaches I have learned for caregiving is the idea of detaching with love. I believe this can apply to even caring for quite young children. It will protect your heart in the long run and help you to cope as a caregiver.
I learned this from a very dear friend who has since passed on and I am so grateful she shared this idea with me, so I pass this onto you, EDS Mamas, in hopes that it will make a lasting, meaningful impact in you. As caregivers, we have thoughts about what our child or loved one should be doing and not doing, everything from medications, to therapies, to school, to activity, and to social interaction. When our loved one chooses a path which is different than what we feel is best for him or her, we feel frustrated. Sometimes the choice our loved one makes will have consequence for us, impacting our time and involvement, or perhaps we believe it will have a negative impact on his or her forward progress. It is hard to know when to give our verbal input, when to express disappointment, when to offer suggestions, and when our help for them is crossing over into enabling poor decisions.
I have seen that when I separate out my emotions and focus not on how I feel, but on what are the goals of my loved one, then I feel at peace. I can become an instrument in assisting this person to attain his goals, not mine. I must accept that my goals for him may not be his goals for himself. He or she may not even have any goals and then I can become that spark of setting goals.
Once I detach with love, it is my responsibility to allow my loved one to accept the consequences of his or her decision. I cannot be an enabler where I try to lighten those consequences. It is those consequences following decisions that will help that individual change, form new goals, and ultimately cope with reality. Learning to assist without crossing over into enabling helps me to create healthy boundaries and ensure I am making time for my own goals and well being. I can make sure I am putting God first in my life (not another person), focusing on what HE wants me to be doing, and not trying to fix somebody else’s situation.