Life as a caregiver can often feel like no life at all. Everything suddenly revolves around someone else, and your own interests, hopes and dreams are put on hold. In essence, you are sacrificing your own life to care for someone else.
Jesus said that anyone who wanted to become his disciple needed to ‘take up their cross’ each day. What does it mean to ‘take up your cross?’ It means putting someone else’s needs before your own.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This quote doesn’t imply that you have no right to take time for yourself, or to take care of your own emotional, physical, and psychological needs. It’s never helpful to let pious sentiments send us on a spiritual guilt trip. Instead, we should read these words as encouragement for the sacrifices already being made. You are not losing your life when you care for another person. On the contrary, it’s the very thing that gives life true meaning — setting aside the self for the sake of loving another. If you feel like you are making enormous sacrifices, you’re doing something right.
No need to be a martyr!
Even Jesus fell under the weight of carrying his cross and needed help. It’s ok to reach out for help when caregiving becomes arduous and heavy.
As the soldiers led him (Jesus) away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
Simon was forced to carry someone else’s cross. He didn’t want to do it. He was already tired from traveling, it was heavy, it was humiliating, and it took him away from his own business and family. Simon became a caregiver for Jesus like so many of us have become for our loved ones.
If you find yourself being thrust into the role of caregiver, remember to do it as if you are doing it for the Lord. Then someday:
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)