by Joanne Viola
From the day we draw our first birth, we begin aging. Aging, the process of getting older, is a forward motion as we anticipate the milestones in life – school days, teenage years, our driver’s license, dating, college, our first job, and getting married.
As the years pass, we hardly give thought to those senior years when we may not be able to do everything for ourselves.
The time of needing help, of being dependent on others, is not for the faint of heart. And being the caregiver is the most difficult of positions as it will demand much both physically and emotionally.
While the journey of caregiving may bear similarities, every journey is as unique as the individuals. No situation is exactly the same and we must be careful in dispensing “advice”.
As I find myself in the midst of my caretaking journey, a few thoughts come to mind to share:
- Caring for our parents is a God-given responsibility. “But if she [a widow] has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God” (1 Timothy 5:4, NLT). There is something about taking hold of this responsibility which reveals the love of God in our lives. God is pleased as we take on this responsibility.
- God will provide us with all we need to take on this responsibility. We’ve seen that caregiving is a God-given responsibility and so, God will provide us with all we need to meet the task. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT). God deposits into our hearts and minds all we need each day.
- Begin every day with God. Tending to our own souls is critical to our caregiving. Commit to spend time in God’s Word every morning. Pray about decisions and the things weighing heavy on your heart, for God will faithfully bring guidance. “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is they way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21, NLT).
I am not sure what I thought these years would be like for our family. Perhaps I did not give them much thought as they crept up on us quickly. I’m reminded of the saying, “The days are long and the years short.”
My parents are yet teaching me the most important lessons in life. Each day they point me to Jesus and to pursue Him with all my heart, soul, and mind. As we laugh at some silly memory or a play on words, I am learning of the medicinal value in laughter and to choose joy. Their gentleness and deep gratitude for the simplest of things reminds me every day to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT).
This task of caregiving is a challenging one but one we can do with excellence, as we rely on God’s strength and God’s wisdom each step of the way. God has never promised us an easy road in life, but He has promised to be with us in all things.
And so, may you discover as I have, that this caregiving journey is a joint venture – an adventure if you will permit me to word it as such. It is an adventure with God in which you will grow with God, and as you do, you will discover: “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, NLT).
Joanne Viola celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary this year. She is mom to two adult married children and “Mimi” to three precious granddaughters.
A ministry which is dear to her heart is The Lulu Tree, where I serve on the governing board as well as tend to our partners.