I’m coming off a very sweet weekend in which Melissa and I marked 29 years of marriage (the large part of it as caregivers) and many kind people graced my retirement from church leadership.
It is one of those forks in the road where I guess I’m supposed to type memoir-like thoughts. But I’m not. The fork is not confusing and I don’t need to linger; I know where I’m heading next, at least in the short term.
I’ll be working at a local hospital in a specific kind of work, sterilizing medical implements. It won’t be the kind of people-work that rides on one’s back all the way home and then sprawls all over one’s family and personal life.
I’m glad for it. I applied for some other, more lucrative public service positions, but those didn’t come through – and in short hindsight I think that’s a blessing. I couldn’t have given the emotional quality of work they needed.
The decades of family care giving simultaneous with the emotional demands of church leadership took a toll. There were various highs and lows, but I’m not going back over them with a lot of “woulda shoulda coulda” self-absorption. They were what they were. I lifted a lot of people up and I let a lot of people down. Such is human life.
Looking at myself honestly in the here and now, I can say that I have a good number of emotional punctures. Not enough to incapacitate me or require major repair, but enough to know I need to keep things as simple as I can. I’m like a garden hose with some nicks – sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s not time to throw it away. It gets most of the water where it needs to flow. A spot of duct tape and all’s well.
Care giving takes a toll. I say that without shame. It’s diminished me in some ways.
And I know it’s improved and enriched me as well.
If you are a caregiver in the trenches, you’re not crazy and, most of all, not a bad person (more than any other ) when you feel your nicks and leaks. Care giving is costly. As is anything ultimately worthwhile,
…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)