Prayers in Time of Old Age
In 24 verses, the psalmist, speaks out of mature experience with the Lord. He/she prays for help (vv. 1-4,) but affirms confidence in One he has found faithful from youth on (vv. 5-13.) Although in danger, the psalmist will ‘always have hope’ and will always praise God (vv.14-18.) Despite life’s troubles, he counts on God to restore him (vv. 19-21) and commits himself to a life of praise (vv. 22-24.) Caretakers of any age know firsthand that caregiving requires much stamina. (Facing Doctor’s appointments, baths, cooking, controlling our tempers, tending to emergencies that pop up and more.) Physical, emotional and spiritual exertion can wear us out. God alone is our strength and reading a psalm, like this, can help supply what we need to get us through the day. When feelings become overwhelming, God gives us emotional strength to avoid weariness and descending into hopelessness. Do we believe God is for us? How much are we trying to carry, as we struggle to be there for our loved ones and ourselves? Do we need to set anything down? It can be an attitude, hurts, prejudices, obsessions, illusions. Does anything come to mind in our individual circumstances? Be realistic about what you can manage. While we can’t change what is going on, our hope is to be less reactive. As the saying goes, we can’t avoid what is happening to us, but how we react to it, makes the difference. Self-care is not selfish – it is self-preservation! I appreciate this statement by Rabbi Irwin Kula, “The more we allow ourselves to unfold, the less likely we are to unravel. The more we dive into our desires the more exquisite life becomes.” Though not unique to me, I often use the term, “Blessed are the flexible, they will not be bent out of shape.” We know that love is action and that goes both ways. Loving ourselves is also vital and we need to pay attention to our stressors and be there for ourselves. Good caregiving of others demands good caretaking of self. I read and agree with this statement, ‘Real enemies of energy are feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, anxiety and hopelessness.’ Surely, that is not God’s plan for us. Some key ideas for self-care - Balancing and pacing are an integral part of both our personal and professional lives. Dwelling in the present moment, releasing all thoughts and cares about the past, as well as any projections of the future, helps us keep perspective. Meditation relaxes the body, calms the mind and centers, helping us to get to a deeper awareness. Healthy boundaries create a healthy lifestyle, unhealthy boundaries create chaos and depletion. Practice self-compassion and be realistic about what you can and cannot achieve within the time frame you have. God will never forsake us. Will we choose to be gentle and tender with ourselves?