God has given you and me the capacity to love and care for others. Isn’t taking care of others what God expects of all of us? In caring for others, we give of ourselves. In giving we receive.
In my legal calling, I have worked with hundreds of husbands and wives in divorce and preparing their Wills. I serve. I give. I receive. I get far more value in return for my services than is measured by the amount of legal fees paid to me.
In my demanding, caring job, I do what many of you have done. I postpone caring for my own needs. I put myself second. Dental and routine medical appointments are not timely scheduled. For many months a broken zipper on my favorite pair of slacks is not taken to the tailor. I don’t have lunch with family or friends as I am too busy doing more important things for others. I postpone a long overdue and needed vacation.
Don’t all caregivers need a vacation or break to rest and rejuvenate their minds, bodies, and souls? Rest to refill their cups of compassion and strength to serve others again and again.
I ask you, “Do those, like you and me, with the gift of caring for others, paradoxically, have an equal inability to care for themselves?”
I once had a married couple come to me to prepare their Wills. They were in their 60s. They had been married for 35 years. They only had one child, a son with Downs Syndrome. For 33 years, they had been his sole caregivers. They made sure that his every need was taken care of from bathing, feeding, and beyond. He was their child who never grew up. They had done everything to meet their son’s extensive needs. They even went to the grocery store separately not to leave him alone. The couple had never taken a single vacation since their son was born. They had plenty of money to do that. They just never had the time. As their son got older and bearded in his 30s, he became more difficult to physically manage. He was less compliant in cooperating with their daily caregiving tasks.
When I met the couple, they were considering their deaths. What would happen to their son if both his parents died? How would their beloved disabled son be able to survive? To be happy? I advised them to act and to investigate placing their son in a home or facility suited to meet his needs now. I asked the couple to imagine what their final years together on the Earth would be like if that placement was workable. If the son became a resident elsewhere, the vacuum left behind would give them time to live their unlived dreams and hopes. To take those vacations and to travel in America and around the world.
The couple considered my advice. They researched and located a suitable facility in Austin, Texas. Their son went with them to look around and to see other residents who were just like him. A few weeks later they admitted their son to the facility. Their hearts were heavy. They cried. They left their son behind. They felt they had abandoned the son they loved.
At the signing of their Wills which established a trust for the care of their son, I asked for an update. With tears of joy in their eyes, the parents told me they regularly visited their son in Austin. They were shocked. Even relieved. Despite their fears, the son was happy, well cared for,” and enjoyed socializing with his fellow resident peers. After that time, the couple lived another 15 years. Those years were used to take those dream trips. They were finally able to care for themselves as they had cared for their son.
God has spoken in Scripture about caring for ourselves as we care for others.
And Jesus said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Let us pray together.
Dear God, I thank You for my ability to care for others. In discharging my duty to You to care for others, I strive to love others as I wish to be loved.
God, please help me know that my care for others is not meant by You to be at the total sacrifice of my own needs. Scripture says that my body is Your temple, a vessel that needs to be maintained and cared for.
God, please help me care for myself so that I may steadfastly and energetically serve You by serving others well.
God, please guide me each day to take the time to do something that brings me rest, preserves my health, and restores my body and soul.
May my self-care enable me to be a better servant and to obey Your command for me to love others and myself as You love me and all Your children. Amen
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If you want to purchase for yourself or a friend a copy of Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love or Prayerful Passages: Asking God’s Help in Reconciliation, Separation or Divorce, please click here to go to Amazon.
Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.
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