We’ve been through a lot of changes recently as we sold our home and moved into a more wheelchair-friendly place to accommodate our daughter’s declining condition. Things did not go smoothly. Well, that’s actually an understatement. Chaos, confusion, grief, disappointment and trouble had us hemmed in on every side. Nothing was working out, yet it was so evident from our daughter’s failing health that we had to leave our house in order for her to continue to live with us. I described the three months of searching, negotiating, packing, unpacking – all while watching our daughter decline – as feeling like we were being “dragged backwards through a keyhole.”
Change is inevitable, yet hard for all of us, especially when it’s not expected. Caregivers experience a tremendous amount of unexpected change, and it’s not just with the changing condition of the person we care for.
- Our roles and relationships change – children now take care of their aging parents; parents become the medical advocates and therapists for their disabled children; a spouse becomes a stranger through the cruelty of dementia.
- Our lifestyle patterns change to accommodate the demands of caregiving.
- Our circle of friends and support changes to those who have the grace to allow us to do what we have to do, in the unique way we manage to do it.
- Long standing traditions and commitments change as our freedom and ability to participate change.
- Our financial situation changes if someone can no longer work or if we are not prepared for the cost and challenges of care.
All of this can change our physical, emotional and spiritual condition, as well, but perhaps (shockingly) for the better! Let me explain what happened to me.
As I said, we were surrounded by all kinds of trouble, grief, disappointment, and confusion and nothing we could do could fix it. As a matter of fact, every attempt just seemed to make it worse. The worse it got, the madder and sadder I got. I was angry at the doctors, the realtor, the movers, the carpet people, the bankers, the lawyers, my friends, my husband. It got so bad that I was even mad at my daughter for not being able to eat, talk or walk. And I was really mad at God for not answering my prayers!
It finally got to the point where all I could do was give up – and that is exactly what God was waiting for me to do. I laid down the expectations I had placed on everyone and everything and just let things “be.” With trouble on every side, I just put a smile on my face and walked through each impossible day no longer trying to manage or control anything to meet my expectations, rather allowing everything and everyone to just be. (I think the Bible calls that grace and forgiveness.) The formerly irate and hysterical me was now saying, “Whatever,” and meaning it.
Poof! No more conflict. No more grief. No more disappointment – all because I changed my thoughts and expectations. And when I changed – no longer perpetuating chaos, trouble, accusations, etc. – things changed. Not only did I get immediate relief from my pain, but the situation turned around. The details swirling around in chaos began to fall peacefully into place. But the most miraculous change was in our daughter – who is now eating, talking and walking without any help – even going up and down stairs!
Each situation worked out in its own amazing way, but I was blinded to that possibility, even blocking it, as long as I was expecting something else.
If you’ve been frustrated by the changes in your life, perhaps it is because we are not willing to let them change you. Let go of stubborn expectations and allow God to work it all out – His way.
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17 (NIV)