by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
Recently I found myself dealing with one family crisis after another. I wanted to be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt. But instead, I was feeling overextended, burdened, overwhelmed, and maxed out.
My parents and father-in-law had various care needs, while another family member had lost her job and her marriage, and had been involved in a serious car accident. Yet another family member with a new baby needed care and financial assistance. To top it all off, my husband and I were struggling to maintain our cattle ranch in the worst drought conditions we’d had in north Texas in 50 years. The demands seemed endless.
Around that time, a headline in a local newspaper grabbed my attention: “Overburdened family caregivers.” That was me, all right. As I read over the piece, it only reinforced all the strain I was feeling. It asserted that caregivers for family members will have times when they feel alone and stressed out.
When I began to experience regular headaches and chest pains in between phone calls from loved ones, I realized the situation was calling for some serious prayer. I didn’t want to buy into the idea that my desire to help loved ones must bring suffering as a normal result.
The rock of Truth is much higher than my limited sense of things.
One day, at the peak of my frustration, I read this passage from Psalms: “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned there is a rock much higher than my own limited sense of things. Many times I’ve prayed to understand more about this rock of Truth when I’ve been struggling with various challenges.
And healing has always involved lifting my thought above and beyond my human sense of things to see the spiritual and eternal facts relating to the situation. I knew I needed to do the same thing in caring for my various family members now.
When we limit our perceptions to only the human sense of things, we cut ourselves off from God’s infinite view, which lights the path to healing and reveals the best solutions. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause,—wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.”
I was definitely seeing endless human tasks associated with the collective needs of family members. But I was forgetting the key to accomplishing God’s “infinite tasks”—pausing and waiting on Him, and seeing that the accomplishment of anything good always comes from a source greater than human effort or willpower. So I decided to refocus my efforts and see that I could feel unconfined and free to carry out God’s plan.
I was actually being called upon to witness the power of God.
I worked to dismiss a burdened sense of my family and my role as defined by mundane duties, obligations, and responsibilities. Sometimes even in our good desires and deeds we martyr ourselves and accept suffering as natural. But as Mrs. Eddy pointed out, the word martyr actually comes from the Greek and means “witness.” I saw that rather than take on burdens and focus on a litany of problems, I was actually being called upon to witness the power of God, of good, in the lives of my loved ones.
As I gained a more spiritual view of my family, remembering that each one was a child of our Father-Mother God, who loves each of us dearly, the situation changed. The result was healing and progress for each and every one of us.
One family member found a new job, another expressed more independence, and yet another repaid all the money he’d borrowed from us. I was even able to accept a new job opportunity, which helped ease our stretched finances. The headaches and chest pains ceased, and they haven’t returned. And I feel a deeper peace.
No, the demands on me haven’t gone away entirely. But I trust that progress is God’s law for each of us, His beloved children. Most important, I’m more certain that the one divine caregiver is God who is able to meet the needs of His children and guide us to the best solutions and answers. We can count on it.