As I sit down to write this, my fingers lightly touching the keyboard, my mind battles with a million spiraling thoughts, but none louder than the quiet, steady breathing I hear from the room downstairs. Breath that signifies life, hope, and a reminder of God's enduring grace - It's My father’s breath.
On September 8th, 2022, the world as I knew it shifted. My strong, Godly father, at just 67, suffered a devastating stroke that left him paralyzed on one side of his body. My mother, dealing with her own health challenges brought on by diabetes, found herself overwhelmed. Both needed care more than they could provide for each other. My father was put into rehab to try and regain the function of the right side of his body, but only two weeks in, he suffered a seizure that would set him back, he fell into a deep depression and stopped making progress. With my father not making progress and being moved to 12 different rehabs, he was put into a nursing home, as the task of taking care of him seemed too great for any one person. After months of witnessing my father's neglect and downright abuse from his supposed caregivers and the reluctance of my siblings to change their lives to take care of him,
My husband and I, with many a second thoughts, decided to risk changing our lives and move both my mother and my father into our home. Trust me, Caregiver is not a role I ever envisioned for myself. You see, I am the rebel of the family, that one that always joked that I would put them in a nursing home and let my mother put on her own lipstick. I certainly didn't anticipate the road God saw fit to lead me down. The countless therapy appointments, the medications to keep track of, the arguments, and the stress of taking care of open bed sores or the sleepless nights filled with distress, can make me feel frustrated and overwhelmed at times. But here I am.
Why? It's a question I've been asked repeatedly, sometimes even by my own weary self. The answer is simple - love, obligation, honor, and above all, faith.
The Bible teaches us to "Honor your father and mother" (Ephesians 6:2). This commandment doesn't come with a qualifier, it doesn't say 'unless they get sick' or 'until it becomes inconvenient.' The commandment is absolute, a gentle reminder that they nurtured us when we were vulnerable, and it's our turn to reciprocate that love and care when they need it.
Each day is an amalgamation of challenges, victories, setbacks, and moments of joy. It's my father's steadfast determination during physiotherapy or my mother's smile when I perfect a recipe she once mastered. There are tears, there are bouts of laughter, and there is a lot of prayer.
When I think about it, I'm overwhelmed by the profoundness of this journey. I see myself growing emotionally and spiritually and my relationship with God deepening with each passing day. It's a strange blessing, a silver lining that's almost paradoxical. And as hard as this season of life has been, I count it all joy.
It's an opportunity to serve, to show love in the most profound way possible - by being present, by helping, by sacrificing. James 1:2-4 tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
In the quiet moments, when the house falls into a lull, I often find myself whispering, "By the grace of God, go I." Because it's His grace that carries us through. The God who whispers reassurances in the stillness of the night, who strengthens me when I feel I can't go on, who guides my hands and my heart as I care for my parents.
It's His grace that encourages me to keep going, keep caring, and keep loving, even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. I share this with you not to laud my sacrifices but to celebrate the grace and the strength God provides in our most trying moments. This journey has been a testament to the power of faith and resilience, a lesson in compassion and patience, and a reminder of the unending love our heavenly Father has for us.
I count it all joy, not because it's easy, but because it's worth it. It's an honor and a privilege to care for the two people who gave me life and loved me unconditionally. It's an honor to give back, to serve, to embrace the opportunity to walk with them through this challenging season.
Though this path is not one I would have chosen for us, I've discovered an ocean of grace I had not known before. It has deepened my faith, expanded my capacity for love and empathy, and taught me more about the strength of the human spirit than I ever thought possible.
I often find comfort in the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” These words remind me that it's okay to be weary, it's okay to feel overwhelmed. I'm human, and it's in these times of weakness that God's strength is most evident. He carries me, He carries my parents through each moment.
When I look into my father's eyes, filled with gratitude and determination, or when I hear my mother's laughter ringing through the house despite her pain, I see God's grace at work. It is a humbling, overwhelming, beautiful sight. In the midst of the storm, it's His love that anchors us. And I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, it's by the grace of God that we continue to navigate these uncharted waters. Despite the trials and tribulations, I remain grateful for this journey and the spiritual growth it has brought me. I am grateful for the precious moments with my parents that I wouldn't trade for anything.
My prayer for all who read this is that, regardless of the storms you face, you feel God's grace surrounding you, strengthening you, and guiding you. May you find joy, not just in spite of your circumstances, but because of them.
Remember, it is not about the burden of the situation but the blessing of the journey. The opportunity to serve, to love, and to grow. For by the grace of God, go we.