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Go Ahead and Cry

9 Apr
J 802-31 tears Ann Marie Young, 25, cries as she grapples with depression brought on by a gunshot wound during a robbery that left her a paraplegic, unable to care for herself or her two young children. After Young tried to commit suicide three times and her mother could no longer meet her serious medical needs, she was moved to the Golden Age Home in Kingston, Jamaica, surrounded by residents who are decades older than her. The children now live with relatives. Food For The Poor staff photo by Benjamin Rusnak

photo by Benjamin Rusnak

The life of being a caregiver for someone you love who has an irreversible progressive degenerative disorder/disease comes with tears. There’s no getting around it.  I remember the day the doctor told me that Mom has Alzheimer’s. It was not a surprise but it was devastating. The memory of that moment still brings me to tears.  Every one of my mother’s doctor visits since that day has reduced me to tears as I describe was been happening between visits and mom is asked questions she can no longer answer. I cannot count the number of times that I have curled up on the sofa in a fetal position and cried myself to sleep, typically after getting mom safely in bed.  I usually tell no one about those moments. It’s not that I feel ashamed. It’s more that I feel like my emotions are way too heavy for anyone else to bear.  I made the choice to move in with mom when she had knee replacement surgery. I make the choice everyday to not walk out the door and never return. I make the choice everyday to assume the responsibilities and  receive the rewards of being Mom’s caregiver. I choose to not burden my family and friends with the weight of my emotions everyday.  There are times when I can’t hide it though. Moments when someone holds my hand too long, hugs me too closely, looks me in the eye too deeply, it all just comes pouring out.  Gratefully the person on the other side has always been strong enough to handle it. We, caregivers, need that safe, healthy emotional release. I know that I do. If I do not cry alone or with someone I trust, all of those emotions turn inward and build up. That’s where the trouble starts. I then try to find other ways to stuff the emotions down, mask them, or simply numb myself.  At this point you maybe thinking, “didn’t she just do a whole 3-part series post on Trusting God?” Why yes I did! I’m a work in progress. I certainly still have my struggles. There are also times that even after turning to God first, I still have tears and a sense of isolation that drives me to cry harder.   Do I think that crying fixes anything? YES. Crying fixes ME. Crying can fix YOU. Crying stops us from being emotionally detached or so overwhelmed that we cannot function and therefore are unable to execute our care giving duties. The trick is to not get stuck there.

Here’s another confession, I find that when I get myself together enough to make it to workout with my BNFIT family at 5 AM, I am better off physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I even get my morning devotions done earlier too. Find a way to take care of your body. Sweat! Sweat so hard that no one can even tell that you’re crying.  One of the phrases my trainer likes is “No one ever drowned in a pool of sweat.”  He’s intense but I need that level of intensity. Find what works for you. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Take a workout class. Go to the gym. Workout with a group. Workout with a personal trainer. Just do something! (I’m preaching to myself on this one!)

Now back to what I was saying,  if you find yourself unable to stop the tears, that’s a clear sign that you are emotionally overloaded and need to seek help. I am an advocate for therapy. Find a professional. Talk to your pastor or spiritual leader and get their advise on professionals they may recommend for you.  Tears should not be feared. Embrace your tears. When you are done, wipe your tears and continue being your fabulous self.  I can tell you from experience (last week in particular) that crying does not kill you. Go ahead and cry, my friend and then…smile.

Next up…We’re going to talk about a caregiver’s role as patient advocate

Let’s Talk About TRUST, Part 2

17 Mar

Trust God

Are you brave enough to confess that you are afraid to trust God? Are you beat down enough to admit that you are afraid to trust God? Are you afraid to trust God? I confess that I have been, I am, and I am hoping to stop this cycle. Trust has been a major issue for me overall.  As I’ve stated before, my trust issues went into overdrive when my father died suddenly. I clung to the belief for YEARS that God had made an error and was simply too embarrassed to admit it. I can kinda laugh about that whole way of thinking now but there is still a part of me that is open to accept God’s apology for ruining my life! LOL  I let that pain fester and grow into a deep lack of trust for anything that made no sense to me, that could not be documented, or that materialized outside of what I found logical even if not my taste.  All along though I still acknowledged God, loved God, and kinda sorta served God (insert side-eye here).  There is no way to fully serve God without trusting God. There is actually no way to be engaged in a healthy loving relationship with ANYONE without trust.

Trusting God requires passion and commitment. I’m not just trusting God to hold my hand as I cross the street. I’m trusting God to BE THE PATH. I’m trusting God to reveal my future and guide me as I do what God says do. I’m trusting God to be my everything. The trick though is that I have to give up all of my notions of who and how I should be. THAT’S MAJOR! This must be why God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our example. This trusting God thing takes sacrifice and not just giving up Ben and Jerry’s for Lent. It requires giving up your life so that you can live. It requires seeing God in everyone. It requires knowing the will and Word of God. It requires embracing a love that is not always cuddly, but a love that disciplines, that corrects, that cuts to the bone, that sheds blood, that comes with HIGH accountability. That kind of love demands and breeds passion and commitment.  Now that I think about it, the question is not just will I TRUST God, it’s also do I LOVE God. Do I love God enough to TRULY surrender all of me to all of Him?

I Surrender All  – Judson W. Van DeVenter 1896

  1. All to Jesus I surrender,
    All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.

    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
  2. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Humbly at His feet I bow;
    Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
    Take me, Jesus, take me now.
  3. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
    Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
    Truly know that Thou art mine.
  4. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Lord, I give myself to Thee;
    Fill me with Thy love and power,
    Let Thy blessing fall on me.
  5. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Now I feel the sacred flame;
    Oh, the joy of full salvation!
    Glory, glory, to His Name!

Those are some POWERFUL lyrics! In my heart I want these words to be more than a plea. I want them to be a testimony. I want my love for and trust in God to be a complete surrender.  Let’s just marinate there for now

Let’s Talk about TRUST

16 Mar

Trust me

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. There are many reasons for that but we can discuss those later. Today I just wanna talk and hopefully hear back from you.

This whole exploration of trust started here. There is a note in my mother’s medical file that states: “Failure to thrive”…3 little words…just 3 little words. Her doctor mentioned the possibility of cancer being the reason she is failing to thrive. If I didn’t have a tight budget I would have SMASHED my phone to make her and her words disappear. PLEASE NOTE: To those of you reading this who know my mother this is not a confirmed diagnosis. At this point it’s just an exploration of what is causing her “failure to thrive.” The tears came quickly…tears of anger, confusion and fear all at the same time. Have you ever been there? It’s a painful place to be. It’s a lonely place to be. It’s also an easy place to get off track in every way possible. This question quickly came to mind, “Who and what will I trust?” I am a Christian so that question more specifically for me is will I trust God to be God?

THAT IS A HUGE QUESTION!!!

I knew that I needed to run to God but it was more like confront God. I was angry. I wanted to let God know a thing or two about the way my journey is playing out. My prayer time was not focused on miraculous healing for my mother. I have laid her at the altar before God and I am caring for her to the best of my abilities. There is nothing more that I can do than that. God is a healer and that remains true no matter what. I heard or read this recently, “Everyone who God heals also eventually dies!” With that in mind, I was ready to let God have it. Unexpectedly though, my prayer time was not focused on my anger or my list of grievances against God. My prayer time was focused on trust.

The question I wrestled and am wrestling with is will I trust God no matter what? This is not some undefined trust. I’m talking about a trust that shows up as an unconditional yes to whatever God asks of me. A trust that shows up as unconditional and full surrender to God over what I want. A trust that shows up as obedience to God. A trust that shows up as complete, irrevocable, absolute submission to God. I am clear that I’m using words that many like to steer clear of these days. I’m in my 50’s now. My need for popularity and to be one of the cool kids ended a LONG time ago! I want an intimate and powerful relationship with God…a relationship that gives God glory. I want to be a disciple of God. Those  goals require trusting God.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of embracing reality. Today’s challenge was to embrace the reality that God’s will can be and at times will be painful for me. This pain is in direct correlation to my desire to have what I want, the way  want it, when I want it. God’s will is my joy only if I die daily and in Him alone live, breathe and have my being. We get to heavy blowing, running, shouting, dancing, speaking in tongues and whatnot when we declare that. The truth of the strength and courage of  this conviction though is revealed when life smacks you in the face with a brick or your own choices lead you to run at full speed into a brick wall. Well I’ve been smacked and I got angry with God. That anger surprised me. I went all the way back to things that happened in high school and went down the list of the times I felt that God had disappointed me, forgotten me, abandoned me. When I stepped into the Prayer Room today the anger left and I was left to struggle with trusting God. I cried…and I’m still crying. I recited scripture. I talked with God. I heard from God. I listened to music. I sang. I cried some more. The thing that I am most clear about is that my mother will be fine. The work I have to focus on is me and my relationship with God.

It’s not over. I’m still processing. What gets you through your battles in life? How do you let go of anger? How do you turn life’s circumstances into opportunities to grow closer to God? Do you trust God to be God? What does that question mean to you? Let’s pray for each other as we navigate through this thing called life. Let’s talk about trust.

I hope that this song ministers to you as it has to me and countless others…