A Most Difficult Ministry

Caring for others, especially when they are ill or infirm, is among the toughest jobs in the world.

Gospel in the Midst

There are no easy answers to the challenges care providers face, but asking for help is a start. That can be a huge challenge in itself: we are taught to be strong, independent, and in charge; problems are the domain of others.

Perhaps that is the Gospel lesson that can be drawn from such situations. We tend to take umbrage at Jesus' saying, "Blessed are the meek," interpreting it as a celebration of self-abasement or doormat-hood. In our culture it might be better understood as a call to humility: surrendering our false pride (lie) of self-sufficiency and control, and admitting that we need help.

Reaching out is the ultimate act of community: an affirmation that we are relational beings. We need one another. It is also the ultimate act of faith: believing that help will be given.

If you need help, ask for it. If you are asked for help, give it. And if you know of a person who may be in need, don't wait: offer to help.

Photo of a flower

Reflection
©  Deborah Beach Giordano

The Caregiver's Prayer

Oh my God,
I sure hope You can hear me.
It isn’t like people think:
there isn’t anything grand
or ennobling
or spiritually enriching
going on.

This struggle
doesn’t improve my character,
I haven't become
a better person,
a fount of wisdom,
or a hero
to point to with pride.

I’m just me:
the person I’ve always been,
with the same weaknesses
— and strengths;
the same likes
and dislikes;
the same needs
and desires
and dreams;
facing the same troubles
I’ve faced before

only now there are more of them.

It’s even harder
somedays
when people call me
an angel;
they say
that I am wonderful,
admirable;
loving,
courageous,
strong,
and responsible.

They have no idea
of the daily effort,
nor of the way
their well-intentioned ignorance,
and boundless praise
weigh me down:
reminders
of how I ought to be;
making me feel inadequate,
lost,
and small.

There are times —
hours and even days,
sometimes —
when I'm none of those things.
I haven’t become a saint;
and I don’t want
to be a martyr;
but I’d be lying
if I said I wasn’t tired —
to the core of my being.

My muscles ache,
my nerves are on edge,
my thoughts are scattered,
I haven't the strength to cry —
although there are times
I want to scream;
I’m so tired of pretending
that everything is under control.

I am exhausted;
bereft of courage,
unsteady of faith,
unsure of belief;
unable to fake
another cheerful smile;
uncertain
if I can make it through
one more day.

I am like smoke from a fire:
the best of me has burned up;
the slightest breeze
could set me spinning
and I'd disappear
into thin air.

O my God,
I need to hear You
beneath the hum of fear;
I need to feel You
deep within my bones;
I need Your strength
to see me through.

O loving Friend,
speak Your sustaining Word to me.

Amen.