My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To See Jesus

Yesterday, I started a trial week of a job as caregiver to an elderly woman who had two strokes.  I was nervous yesterday, afraid I'd mess up and she and her husband would get mad at me, nervous about the communication issues (she lost her speech because of the strokes); I'm afraid I'll mess up tonight when I cook dinner for them.

It's funny, because here I am doing a job that I always thought I would hate.  Growing up, I had a little bit of experience being a "caregiver" for my blind, diabetic mother; I thought I had had enough of that, that I would hate to do that.  But here, there is the dimension that I won't be a 24/7 caregiver, that when I go home at night I will leave her behind--although, please God!, I will never leave her or any of my suffering brothers and sisters out of my charity and prayers--that this is not something I'm expected to do (I didn't have to agree to try the job out; I could've run from it, whereas growing up, the "caregiving" I did was kind of expected), that--I hate how mercenary I sound!--I will be getting paid to do this.

I'm a selfish jerk.  I haven't used these months of joblessness as well as I should; I haven't used them to grow closer to Our Lord, to grow in my Faith.  I've let the hours of boredom turn me in on myself; if anything, I'm more selfish than I was the day I graduated.  Or maybe I'm just more aware of it; I don't know.

The job will be good for me, if nothing else.  It will be a good opportunity to draw me out of myself, out of my self-centered world, and to draw me to focus on others.  It will be a good opportunity to practice charity and patience, two virtues with which I struggle.  Charity, because I will be practicing what a professor once called "Mother-Theresa-like acts of service" for this poor woman.  How hard it must be for her, trapped in a body that doesn't respond to the commands of her mind (she can't speak, and she's paralyzed on her right side), to have to accept help cutting her food, to be unable to express her wishes, to have to be patient with her caregivers as they try to understand what she is telling them.  Patience, because I know I will be tempted to become frustrated with her when I am unable to understand her wishes and needs.

I guess...okay, I'm a very proud person.  Something I wrestled with last year when Christendom's beloved History Professor was sick was: did I want to help him so badly, because I loved him as part of the Christendom Family, as part of the Mystical Body; or did I want to help because I wanted to feel like I was being helpful?

Please God, I will never let this job make me mercenary, that I will do it not for the money, but because this is a grace God is giving me, an opportunity to serve Him, in the words of Bl. Mother Theresa, "in the distressing disguise of the poor":
Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.
That is ultimately what I have to do in this job; that is how I should treat everyone with whom I come in contact.  I should seek to see Jesus in them, love Him in and through them just as I experience His Love through them.  I should seek to serve Jesus in Mrs. N., to remember that I am cooking dinner for Him

Bl. Mother Theresa, pray for me!

God Love y'all!
(aka "Hurt-ey")

Heavenly Father, help me better understand
and believe I can do what you ask me to do.
Forgive me for the times, even now,
when I question your judgment.
As I go about the many daily tasks of caregiving,
give me energy.
As I watch my loved one oh-so-slowly walk
across the room, give me strength.
As I answer his/her repeated question
just one more time, give me patience.
As I look for solutions to whatever
is the most recent concern, give me wisdom.
As I reminisce with him/her about the
“good old days,” give me a moment of laughter.
As I get to know my loved one in a new way,
seeing both his/her strength and frailty, give me joy.
As I sit beside my loved one’s bed waiting
for his/her pain medication to take effect,
give me comfort.
Lighten my burden, answer my prayer,
and give me the strength to do what
so often seems impossible.
Give me a quiet place to rest when I need it
and a quieting of my anxieties when I’m there.
Change my attitude from a tired,
frustrated and angry caregiver
to the loving and compassionate
one I want to be.
Remain my constant companion as I face
the challenges of caregiving
and when my job is through
and it’s time for me to let go,
help me remember
he/she is leaving my loving arms
to enter your eternal embrace. Amen.


  1. :) I'm so glad to have read this. You touched on one question I've asked myself as well, but that we don't like to think about. I love you, Em!

    1. And I think you'll definitely grow through this. It's always the things we hate that make us grow. Well, we also grow through things we like, but anyway..

    2. What's that question that you'd asked yourself? I'm hoping I'll grow through it...praying I will...and you're right about growing through the things we hate. Love ya!

  2. My dear former roomie - you are a wonderful person. I am constantly awed by both the quality of your writing and your own spiritual depth. Every time I read one of your posts it makes me think! And be ever more grateful I had that year with you. :)
    God bless you in this. I hope it goes well, and that both you and Mrs. N. grow closer to God!
    Love you so much, dear.
    <3 Rebecca

    1. Hello, former roomie! No, I'm not a wonderful person; and I felt like a hypocrite writing this post, just as I felt like a hypocrite writing my Thesis last Fall. There's no "spiritual depth" there; I write it, I know this stuff intellectually; but when it comes to living it in my daily life...I fail. Epically. Pray that this goes well!
      Love you lots, too!
      <3 Em