There comes a time in every caregiver’s life when you have a thought that brings terrible shame upon you.
My life will be so much better once mom or dad have passed on.
You could try to swat the thought away, appalled you could be so selfish. But let me clarify the sentiment, because the Evil One has a way of twisting the truth in our minds. It’s not that you wish your parents would die—it’s that you wish they didn’t require so much help. You wish that they weren’t so ill, or infirm, or needy. You wish they were independent once more, so that you would not be required to look after their needs. That’s really what’s at the root of that unthinkable thought.
I know I would much rather have mom and dad back to the way they were—mobile and strong, intellectually fit and emotionally healthy. That I wasn’t obliged to look after their insurance affairs, and protect their finances from unscrupulous people. That I wouldn’t have to seemingly put my life on hold. That this season of sacrifice would end.
But as I washed my father’s legs after he’d soiled himself, I remembered that my Lord Jesus knelt down and washed his subordinates’ feet. Instead of insisting that he be served, our Savior modeled how we were to serve others. Not just with words, but with sacrificial action.
Performing menial tasks in service of someone else is not meant as a punishment or a humiliation. Though rarely pleasant, it does refocus our place in God's hierarchy. We are far, far below Jesus, and yet He was dirtying his hands and clothes as he washed twelve pairs of filthy feet. I for one am grateful that He is calling on us to emulate Him, rather than to perform tasks that are on par with our lowly station.
The next time that Unthinkable Thought creeps in on you, take up God's invitation to cast all your cares (emphasis on "all") upon Him. Include in your prayers a petition for what you truly want, such as, “Please let mom have a pain-free day,” or "Show me how to handle dad's insurance bill." God is pleased to help you help others. You are His hands and feet on this earth, and in particular, in your role as a caregiver. As you become God's instrument to lift, carry, and embrace those He loves, He will give you more and more power to do so.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. "You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)