Since my husband, Bob, became critically ill 6 years ago, I’ve been referred to as his anchor. Mostly by his medical care teams and by his friends whom he confides in about what direction my role has taken in our marriage.
Being a caregiver to a spouse who has been hospitalized at least 12 times in 6 years with many of them being 1-4 week hospital stays has been daunting.
At the beginning of this journey, I knew that the only way that I was going to be able to fulfill my calling as Bob’s caregiver was to make sure that I took care of myself as well.
That becomes difficult when you feel the pressure to be the anchor of the family. The one who keeps the ship (so to speak) stable, secure, supported and free from floating erratically in the wind of the storm, keeping it in our safe harbor protected from invaders … or in our case, pathogens that can infiltrate the weak and vulnerable one on board.
The anchor is lifted when we have to sail to another medical procedure, treatment or check up and anchor in that harbor until it’s time to return to the safety of our home. Anchor down. Our life once again lived in our isolated stable environment. It takes its toll at times to be the support in turbulent times.
God knew long before I knew that this was going to be a difficult storm. One that would not be over quickly or easily and that Bob would be on deaths doorstep several times and I would be called upon to buoy him up and hold our ship steady. Miraculously his life has been spared time and time again and most recently when a palliative care/hospice physician released him from his care with the words, “Not time yet.” God knew and His plan prevails. How grateful I am to still have Bob here with me.
At the outset of his illness I knew that part of taking care of myself was remembering that I wasn’t capable, in my own strength, to be an anchor. It was too heavy for me. When I tried, when I became overwhelmed, I needed someone to help lighten the load. God provided everything that I needed in Jesus and through the harshness of the forces coming against us He became enough. He is still enough …
- Enough to plant a deep faith in me
- To show me daily what I need to add or subtract from my life to keep me in His peace
- To supply the desire and strength to walk 2-3 miles most days to keep my body and mind healthy
- To provide me with good nutritional choices to make balanced meals
- To bring me resources to help keep my mind and emotions healthy
- To give me gifts and hobbies to use and enjoy
- To move in the hearts of family and friends to call or text me when I need encouragement
- To show me who I can share my deepest thoughts with
- To have good listeners available when I need to talk
- To lead me to friends who won’t judge my words or emotions
- To keep me from sharing too much so I don’t become a burden
- To encourage me to share my story to help someone else
- To reveal to me the good in the hard
- To fill me with joy and all the other fruits of the Spirit
Enough, enough, enough…He is always enough.
And definitely enough to help me take on this assignment with grace for such a time as this. I feel deep in my soul that this is my best work. A deeply spiritual work. A job here on earth with remarkable meaning and purpose. A holy work. This job of taking care of someone who relies on me as I rely on God is truly holy work. I have to be mindful of this daily and to practice the presence of my Lord and talk to him throughout the day and not just during my designated prayer times. He is the anchor of hope and the anchor of storms.
That’s not to say Bob doesn’t rely on God. He does. I could never take that number one place in his life. Nor would he want me to. Bob has a solid faith, his soul is healthy and strong but his body is weak. Our anchor, our God, our all in all, is the one anchoring our lives in this storm.