St. Paul’s words offer us guidance, reminding us to guard our hearts, as we attempt to stand firm in faith. As caretakers, we try to do all with love, but mostly fall short. Perhaps you have been given the example of your parent caring for their parent and now their aging is calling you to do likewise. Unfortunately, my grandparents predeceased me, so I did not have that example. Nor was I always shown unconditional love. Yet my love for family and the Lord, calls me to ‘show up’ and do the best I can. God doesn’t expect perfection, though I often drop into that well. Therese of Lisieux wrote, “Perfection consists simply in… being just what God wants us to be.”
When I lack in my self-care, I can’t count the number of times, I overcompensate, to my detriment, becoming ill and burned out. Family life is usually a bit of a mess and maintaining balance and care for myself, within the boundaries of love and needs of my loved ones, is constant. I have learned the lesson that it is much more difficult to be kind and good to others, particularly when fatigued and not attending to one’s own needs.
Gratefully, I am replenished when I pursue prayer time, where guidance, restoration and deep quiet permeate. It is at those times, I feel God’s blessings and on occasion can replace resentments with forgiveness. When I reemerge from the journey inward, having dwelt for a bit in the place where the path leads, I am better prepared for the steps ahead. The key is not beating myself up for not going to the Lord sooner or recognizing that I cannot give from an empty place. No matter the circumstances, taking a few moments each day and imagining myself in God’s hands, helps me to center.
Prayer, meditation and receiving nourishment from reading the Scriptures all help our wounded places and strengthen us to act with compassion and love. St. Paul further encourages us in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance and endurance proven character and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Standing firm in faith and hope, we face any challenge, mindful that no storm in life is greater than the power of God to bring us through. Even in the unclear moments, we can receive clarity, as we trust. I remember reading that wholeness is when we know we are being held and loved by God, no matter what happens. Perhaps some questions to help our further reflection: Am I aware of the depth and power of God’s love within me? Can I be grateful for the endurance and hope I am blessed with? What might God want to say to me now at this moment?