Secrets to Good Caregiving: Spiritual Taproots and Practical Steps
You can’t make it through caregiving (or care receiving) without hope! And while God provides hope, he also promises more—though sometimes not in the ways we expect. So if you feel that some caregiving needs just aren’t being met, stop and pray. Lift those needs to Lord with the expectation and confidence that he will hear you and respond. And count on God’s promises.
Just ask my husband Ken what has sustained him through more than four decades of caring for me with my quadriplegia, chronic pain, and multiple bouts with cancer. Ken will tell you: the secret to good caregiving starts with a spiritual taproot of constant dependence on Jesus!
Ken has observed that when his focus is on Christ, while caregiving may feel tiring, it doesn’t become tiresome.
He may get weary, but life doesn’t become wearisome. When he depends on Christ, Ken receives grace and energy in his work.
And in meeting my needs, Ken knows he also serves our Savior.
It’s like Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
As Ken put it, “Caring for someone like my wife, Joni, epitomizes the heart of Jesus himself who said, ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,’ (Mark 10:45). It is my joy to give my life in service to Christ by caring for Joni. For no greater love does a man have for another, than when he lays his life down for that person. And sometimes that person just may be your disabled wife.”
Whether you serve by helping your wife with toileting routines or spoon-feeding your disabled child, you are serving the Lord Christ in addition to the individual you care for. That’s what sanctifies your work and makes it holy before the Lord. The Lord sees what you are doing and will pour grace and power into you as you carry out your tasks.
Secrets to Caregiving: Practical Steps
For caregivers, it’s not always easy to find the time, energy, or freedom to engage in adequate self-care practices. If this rings true for you, here’s an important reminder: you will do your best work as a caregiver when you care for yourself too. Consider the following three aspects of self-care, and think about how you can engage in each one, even in a small way.
Take care of your own body:
Ken has learned the importance of simply taking breaks amid caregiving stints to get some form of physical exercise. While I was going through chemotherapy, my sister flew out from Maryland to help us. Her presence allowed Ken opportunities to go for a walk or get to the gym. Getting endorphins flowing, clearing his head, and cultivating the discipline of taking care of his own body allowed him to return to caretaking refreshed.
It may be difficult to carve out opportunities for exercise, but it is well worth the effort. Likewise, while it may not be easy to get a full night’s sleep or cook a well-balanced meal, these things will pay off for you, and for the person you care for. If time and energy don’t seem to permit these kinds of self-care, read on.