I’ve been tired before, but nothing compares to the almost constant state of exhaustion that is my life now. It has been just over a year since my husband, Bob, became disabled due to illness. This past year he has been in the hospital and nursing home for a total of five months. He is home now, but he is unable to walk, and requires 24 hour care since is not even able to transfer himself. We have found out that his condition will not improve, so the position of being my husband’s full time caretaker, while working part time, parenting my two autistic sons (ages 20 and 16), and being a minister will continue to be a constant in my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has been a long year.
People often comment that they don’t know how I am doing it. To be honest, I am just taking it one day at a time. My house is not kept as clean as I would normally like it, but I am learning to be satisfied with what I can do, and I am learning to be okay with the reality that I am just not going to be able to stay on top of things the way I used to do. Today I opened the silverware drawer and saw there was only one clean fork, this put washing dishes at the top of my to-do list. One would think looking at the pile of dishes in the sink would have been sufficient motivation for me, but no, I’ve learned to look past the mess. At least now that fall is here, I don’t have to work in time to mow the yard once (or sometimes twice) a week, though I am absolutely dreading when the snow and ice of winter appears. I hate shoveling the driveway and being out in the cold, yet I’ll be doing it because I will need to get my car out of the driveway to take my sons to work and school, and then drive myself to work. I’m not going to lie; I really miss the days when I could sleep in and Bob would get the boys up and off to school. Being a caretaker for your spouse is not easy.
Things are trying, but God has always provided. I am part of a very loving and supportive church family. They have continually been there to run errands, help me fix things around the house, and help me with my sons. These days I find myself once again drawn to the following passage in the book of Habakkuk. This passage became a favorite of mine when my boys were young and had both been diagnosed with autism.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NRSV).
The passage speaks of an extended time of strife and hardships that the people will have to endure, yet despite this the prophet praises God. I too, find that though there are moments when the stress seems overwhelming, my heart is at peace. Though I’m often sleep deprived, and have no time to myself, though my day is filled with seeing to the needs of others, and I struggle to find time to grade papers and work on sermons, though I find myself having to learn to do things that Bob always took care of, and my responsibilities have more than doubled, yet I too rejoice in the Lord my God! I love the last sentence of the Habakkuk passage I quoted which says that God doesn’t just give strength to barely get by, but to walk in the high places. God has given me the strength to thrive, not just survive. I am so grateful that despite all pressures that life throws at me, I am able to rejoice and praise God each and every day because I see the beauty of my life from the heights! So, how do I manage? I don’t do it on my own, but through the strength that God provides me.