A to Z Challenge: Letter G for Guilt

“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.” Erma Bombeck

There is a tremendous burden of responsibility that we take on when we become a caretaker. Sometimes it can mean the difference between life and death for those we care for. But we are human and mistakes happen. If you are a caretaker you have signed up for big time guilt in so many areas that you can’t even imagine.

Almost all dependent persons, those who are ill, or disabled, or elderly take medication of some sort. I have a nursing nightmare, which comes from a similar real life event, of being responsible for giving medication to dozens of patients without time to do it. Errors of giving the wrong medication or not giving a med on time are so common in the medical world that whole systems have been developed to prevent them.

No chance I’m going to make a mistake here, right?

At present, I only have one person (the husband) who needs help with his medication so we haven’t had nightmare material lately, but I have forgotten at times. There are also many other kinds of errors that can devastate us. Saying the wrong thing, giving the wrong information, errors in judgment, errors in attentiveness. I hear of it happening all the time in the online support groups that I frequent.

I want to say something to those of you who truly care about “your person”. You probably are going to do something that you consider an error. Do the best you can to avoid making mistakes but when they happen, forgive yourself and learn whatever you can from them. Continue as best you can. My way of doing this is to pray for those in my care. I ask God to protect them and to help me know what to pay attention to and when to listen. I ask him to give me the necessary skills, and help when I need it. He does this.

By being willing to be a caretaker you are giving “your person” a gift. Maybe you are making it possible for them to be in their home rather than an institution. Maybe you are saving them great expense. Maybe you are providing a sense of family, of belonging. Maybe you are giving them something that money can’t buy. Don’t let the fear of making errors keep you from giving something precious and needed.

The Voice of Condemnation

Condemn: to express strong disapproval of, to show or declare guilt, to declare unfit for use.

Every now and then the voice of condemnation makes a bid for prominence in my day, my thoughts and feelings.  It’s often when I hear the story of a famous, influential person who has accomplished a lot, or when I hear a tribute to someone who used their talent in an extraordinary way and influenced many lives for better.  I am tempted to look at my very small circle of influence and compare.  The voice points out the ways in which I have not been courageous, or diligent, or faithful, or willing to be involved.

Yesterday I entered the doctor’s waiting room, signed in and took a seat.  There was a late 20’s aged girl totally absorbed in telling her life story to an elderly couple.  She recounted her home life, her dysfunctional relationship with her father, mother and brother, and the situation she was presently involved in.  There were many complaints, tales of poor decisions (blamed on others, of course) and all voiced loudly enough that I had a hard time concentrating on the book I was trying to read.  I was wishing not to hear her after five minutes, but after fifteen minutes I was actually considering going outside to escape and asking the desk to call me when it was my turn to go back. The elderly couple was called back and she no longer had an audience, which clearly upset her.  She changed chairs and started making comments to herself about how sick she was.  She got up and kicked a book off the chair next to her, sat down on that chair, and mentioned out loud how she was not going to pick up the book because she was too sick.  I was SO grateful to be called about then and spared having to get into a conversation with her. She had “needy” written all over her and I didn’t want to deal with it.

You see, I am very aware of the miraculous ways in which God is walking into people’s lives and changing their course, and yet I am not always willing to get involved.  The truth is that when I have been involved in situations similar to that, they have not turned out well.  Over time I have seen that I am ineffective when it comes to counseling, reasoning with people to enlighten them, thinking of what to say to help them.  I am not able to change hearts, and much of the time I can’t even figure out what their need is and how to approach them.  Here’s where the voice of condemnation would like to finish me off. It would like me to think that I was responsible, and that it is now over, too late.  The voice repeats “It’s about you, and your failure.”

I have been convicted of my part and in response I am asking for crazy boldness, extra resourcefulness, time at the right time, and discernment.  I know God can teach me these things.  I know he forgives me for falling short.  If I hear a condemning voice, it is not his and I had better ask who that voice belongs to.  It is never too late for God to show what he can do, in fact the later it seems, the more awesome he proves himself to be.

“so, there is now no condemnation…”    The Bible, Romans 8:1

Guess what? It is not about me (or any of us). The whole story is about God and what he has done, is doing and will do yet. It is not over, not too late.  It’s in progress and we are part of it, a special part, but it is not about us.  That is pretty good news, just sayin’…

A 21st Century Mother’s Day

Things I did on Mother’s Day weekend 2014:

Giant rose takes over dining room table
Giant rose takes over dining room table

– The husband started things out by taking me to Miller’s Dutch Family Restaurant. We went on Saturday night because Miller’s is always closed on Sunday, so we thought.  We were greeted by signs everywhere that they were now open 7 days a week.  Wonder what brought about this change? But we stayed.

– Went to the evening service of Exalt Church, which was fortunate because it was the only social celebrating of the M.D. occasion the whole weekend.  Received a beautiful rose and there were tasty desserts.  I was pretty full of Miller’s strawberry pie but managed to  put down a piece of  chocolate cake, a sacrificial act, to be polite of course.

– Talked on phone with the eldest daughter who was agonizing over our inability as a family to make much of holidays. Evidently I don’t make people feel guilty enough when they forget when the holiday is, therefore they develop the habit of forgetting. This daughter calls several times a week and we talk a lot so I have no trouble forgiving her for not driving for four hours and appearing on my doorstep.  I tell her not to feel guilty. We perpetuate our habit of not keeping holidays.

– I try to send my email Mother’s Day greeting to my mother.  Called her earlier to apologize for not mailing the card I bought her on time for her to get it. She doesn’t make me feel guilty… hmm, something familiar about this scenario.  Computer is being really difficult and won’t let me send so I go to bed.

– Sunday morning and the computer has healed. I send the letter to my mom.

– The husband has met up with a virus overnight (he didn’t catch a cold, it caught him). He doesn’t want to be coughing and hacking all over people at church so I go alone. Received nice Mother’s Day hugs from several friends. Oddly enough, no mention in the service about it being Mother’s Day (or was I just not listening?)

– Made a call to a young mother and had a good chat.

– Received a long email from youngest daughter yesterday but also today, a picture via text of the card she bought me.  This gives me great idea because theoretically, one would not even have to buy the card – just take phone camera to the card shop and click away. Clever.

– Another text greeting from a “not quite, but almost like a son” young man in California. Came with a virtual hug.

– For fun, I relax by catching up on all 5 types of solitaire challenges for month of May until I am hallucinating and feeling weird.  I see a 6 and immediately think 7, numbers are coming at me from all directions. I go to kitchen for my favorite, Cozy Shack rice pudding.

There are still several hours of this holiday left and who can guess what wonders await me.  Feeling happy and blessed.



Unusually Long Silences

sunny gift from a guest
Unusually long silences in which readers get bored and lose interest are a dreaded reality for me in my blogging life.  I think I speak for many people when I say that sometimes the things we generally like to be doing (writing) isn’t what we want to be doing most (entertaining out of town guests) or have to be doing (work).  But it is crucial that we avoid guilt over things not done if we are being true to our priorities.

What I’ve been doing:

– a pre Thanksgiving event for the husband and other friends and relatives that I won’t get to see on the actual Thanksgiving Day.  This took me days of prep, planning, cooking and cleaning. Twenty two of us had a great time and a good meal.

thanksgiving thoughts from guests
thanksgiving thoughts from guests

– reconnecting with a long time friend and her family, visiting from afar. We kayaked, walked the beach, swam in the ocean, braved the mall, and ate several meals together. Oh, and Mexican Train up to number 7.

dining out with Cheryl
dining out with Cheryl

– worked for my employer, who is having trouble with staffing right now.  I am a so called resigned, retired nurse who works about as much as I did before I resigned. Go figure.

– spent  much enjoyed time doing music for my church (for my God).  Volunteered a little more than usual since others were out.

-spent hours and dollars on my computer, resurrecting it from death (or near death). Now if I can just figure out where all the missing files are, we’ll be fine and functioning.

– put out my fundraising letter for medical supplies for the Cambodian orphans.  I don’t want to go empty handed. God will supply what is needed, but I have to ask.

– overseeing major house washing.  Who knew it could take a week to pressure wash a house? It looks great again, except in the places where the paint needs to be replaced – but we knew that would happen.  All the accessory trees got trimmed too.

In the big picture, I think I made good choices,

putting God first,

people second

and things last.

I have to say, being a consistent writer is not easy when you have another life of any kind …