Caregiver Chronicles: Learning to Count it All Joy
As a caregiver for my mom, I’ve learned to count it all joy in spite of the challenges that arose when my mom took ill in 2014. I mentioned in another blog post about the stroke that impaired her memory and language skills, followed by two incidents of congestive heart failure where the doctor had to shock her irregular heartbeat into its right rhythm (cardioversion). Those hospitalizations, various therapies, and adjustments took its toll on the both of us and created times when the stress felt like it was consuming my head, rippling through my body, and oozing out my ears, which caused my attitude to be short and my tone sharp. But God... God encouraged me through it all, helped me to keep a proper perspective, and increased my joy through the process.
When I experienced a low spirit, tear-jerking moment on May 30, 2015, I was asked to write a “Joy” themed poem to share the next day at my church's Women’s Choir Program. But God led me to share in a different way and the following is my testimony…
God gave me James 1:2-4 during my preparation for the assignment. In the King James Version (KJV) the scripture reads, “2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
The Message (MSG) version gives a slightly new perspective that touched me and reads, “2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
That was the first time I ever thought of my challenges as a gift in relation to the beneficial results of working, pressing, going through.
I hadn’t heard this song since my first church days in 1995. Yet, God put this song in my heart and made my spirit smile. To my surprise, I sang it before the congregation and singing is not my gift. But, I dared to let God have His way.
The Windows of Heaven Are Open
The windows of heaven are open
The fire is falling tonight
I've got joy, joy down in my soul
Since Jesus made everything right
I gave Him my old filthy garment
He gave me a robe of pure white
I’m feasting on manna from heaven
And that is why I’m happy tonight.
Some insights I’ve learned through my process, tests, and trials are:
- Everybody has them – This is my cross to bear. Give thanks for yours because this is true, there is always someone else that is worse off than you. Don’t be fooled by appearances, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Count it all joy. Everyone gets what they need to grow them. I get the divine opportunity to check myself and correct myself as I grow in patience, love, and joy with and for my mother.
- Focus on the good – My joy is increased because I still have my mom to love on, she calls me by my name sometimes, and we can still communicate even though I have to figure out what she means at times. Also, she has not been hospitalized since September 2019 in spite of the doctors' prognosis that she would choke to death or aspirate, be back and forward to the hospital for one issue or another, and be dead within six months. I choose joy and engage in activities that stir up feelings of joy within me. Yes, it has been intensely stressful at times, but we are both better in the process and God is continually making me over.
- Be Grateful – I am so blessed and thankful that my desire and step of faith to work from home allowed me to be available to take care of my mom and be her escort to appointments. Even though those doctor and hospital runs in Manhattan used to make for 8 hour days most times waiting on the ambulette service, I’d rather be running with her than working a 9 to 5 for somebody else doing something I don’t like. Thank God we eventually found out about the House Calls programs.
So I count it all joy and I encourage you to do so too!
Jo Anne Meekins
Inspired 4 U
Knowing God better in regards to who He is, His sufficient grace, and His unconditional, immeasurable love for me taught me how to love myself and become a better caregiver.
© 2019 Jo Anne Meekins