Caring for one’s children is an amazing, rewarding, lifelong dedication. But what about when the tables turn and there’s a need for children to care for their parents? This can be a daunting task, especially with so many families living farther apart and relying on technology to stay connected. And sometimes there aren’t any family members to do the caring.
With 78 million baby boomers hitting retirement age this year in the United States, creative solutions to caregiving are surfacing. Take, for instance, the “telecaregiver.” With the aid of technology, a telecaregiver can remotely observe the home’s occupants 24/7 if needed. For one octogenarian couple, their telecaregiver has become like a daughter – joining them for meals and sharing daily conversation even though she lives nearly a thousand miles away and has never met the couple in person. The world also has its eye on Japan’s innovative robots to augment a caregiving industry that has a massive manpower shortage. Despite the hope these “humanoids” initially promise, they so far haven’t been met with the same enthusiasm by users, who say they prefer humans.
These creative solutions may hint at possible answers. But for a long-term solution, there’s no substitute for a greater acquaintance with our divine Parent. There’s a spiritual answer that promises divine Love’s caregiving on a level that informs and surpasses human invention.
What’s beautiful about Love’s solution for Her children is that both those giving and receiving necessary care can be assured of feeling tangible security in their daily lives. It’s a dependable power that’s been in operation forever.
One biblical example in particular, told in the book of Ruth, never fails to inspire with its message of Love’s care for all. A woman is virtually left alone; her two sons and husband have all died, and she’s about to travel back to her home country on her own. She urges her two daughters-in-law to leave her: “Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband.” As a woman without children (especially sons) and no husband to care for her, Naomi would have to rely on the generosity of extended family. But Ruth, one daughter-in-law, insists, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
The love expressed in their relationship results in joy and blessings for both, including a new family and a son who in the words of her neighbors would be to Naomi “a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him.” Ruth’s willingness to leave her own home and provide the care her mother-in-law needed, represents the practical, healing answers Love offers in our lives when we reach out in prayer.
In fact, divine Love chooses us each day – chooses to stay by our side, nourish and nurture us, keeping a watchful eye on our well-being. As the Psalmist says, Love restores our soul. Through the Christ – God’s divine message to us of His tender healing and love – we are guided into decisions and actions that cause us to feel genuinely cared for, regardless of our circumstances.
It can be tempting to believe that our lives are mortal, subject to a timeline, and at the mercy of human events that label us as burdened or burdensome. But shouldn’t we rather agree with the spiritual and timeless identity God gave us? Prayer can move us to take specific steps to bring our thinking more in line with divine Love’s always present care. Both the caregiver and the one receiving care can strive to cherish qualities like gentleness, compassion, selflessness, patience, grace, humility. As we listen for this guidance, we might be moved to reach out to someone in our community or church, volunteer more prayer time for issues outside of our own lives – and we might find our own needs met in unexpected ways as well.
Training our thought toward Love and Her sweet control blesses the entire human family. Even if we are humanly responsible for caring for someone else, we needn’t feel burdened. When Love is our God, our decisions and actions will increasingly be weighed against that spiritual commitment, and we will care and feel cared for in a way that heals.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.
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