In the most recent decade of our married life our concept of His and Hers has gone beyond closets. God has called us to extend ourselves to the 24/7 care of our parents—his father and my mother. The call to caregiving itself is not radical to us. As a married couple we have always been committed to our family and the honoring of our parents. What is radical is the supernatural grace that has been bestowed upon us to enable us to answer this specific call of God to be caregivers in our home. Perhaps that is why I call caregiving Faith Tending.
In my book Faith Feedings, I describe our call to caregiving as a royal position. I write, “My husband and I have shared a unique and privileged royal position. We have been caregivers in our home to both my mother and his father. No doubt our dual caregiving was a commitment beyond ourselves. We thank God for our parents’ sound minds and their kind and cooperative dispositions in their royal positions. We also thank God for the grace He has given us to care for our elders in a daily and personal way. At the time of this writing, my precious father-in-law is home with the Lord. He passed away at the age of 103. At the time of his departure, I sensed an unexpected wave of peace that came from knowing that we had done the right thing on his behalf. For such a time as this, our caregiving continues with my mother, who is now 92. As I reflect on our caregiving season, I am deeply aware of God’s continual grace in my life. Indeed, as the Lord told the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9. (Faith Feedings…12 principles to nurture your child’s spiritual development. p.106)
You may wonder what committing to the care of the frail elderly has to do with sewing a faith Growing Robe (Blog: A Faith Sowing Circle. 3.24.15 ) for our children. In a word, EVERYTHING! When our grandchildren visit our home they are in house with their Great-Grandparents. God has used our royal position to nurture the sensitivity they have to their elders. They have played countless hands of cards and watched seasons of baseball games. They have learned to use a feeding tube, take and record blood pressures and steady walkers in motion. And what’s more, they have brought infinite joy to Nana and PopPop. I still recall the morning PopPop said to me, “Do you know what that little”twerp” (PP’s endearing term for the kiddos) did for me last night? He put the toothpaste on my toothbrush.”
God’s fifth commandment is Honor your father and your mother… Exodus 20:12. Is there a better way to honor those who have gone before us than by building bridges between the generations? God has brought out the family best in us: Our daughter and son and their respective spouses make it a priority to travel to PA in our time of confinement; PopPop’s son and daughter-in-law live close-by and have provided compassionate support; my sister and her husband live in the same town in SC as my children and serve their needs. We have a faith community that prays for us and lends a hand when needed. The truth is that God has brought out His best to sustain our caregiving efforts. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
Care of the frail elderly may take a different form in your family. Just remember this: God calls each one of us to model honor and respect to our elders…and everyone else’s elders. I encourage you to be pro-active in the faith tending God brings to your doorstep. Let God’s radical grace rain down on you!
OPP (opportunity for action): Purpose to expose your children to the elders around them. Visit someone in your church family. Have them draw a pretty picture and take it to someone in a skilled nursing facility or assisted living. The children on our street will long remember their interaction with Nana and PopPop (and so will we). Take time to teach your children the depths of Honor thy father and mother. It will come right back to you!