Newsletter – May, 2004

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 6, No. 5 May 2004

We live in a society where we want to have it all–personal freedom, a family, a fulfilling professional career, time to volunteer for a good cause, and the leisure time to see the world. Yet, a family member with significant disabilities or illness changes the picture. Expectations need to be revised and dreams get put to the side when there is a family member who needs extra care.

Caregiving requires sacrifice, to be sure. To be present for another person when needed is certainly a noble calling. Although it may be hard at the time when it seems that the ordinary everyday needs crowd out what is more interesting, fulfilling, and fun, a caregiver can find peace and fulfillment in his or her work.

At the same time, I have discovered that dreams can be kept alive by a creative tension in our minds. On the one hand, we can accept our situation and be fully present with our loved ones, no matter how difficult or how mundane the task. On the other hand, we don’t need to feel imprisoned by our circumstances. We can cast a larger perspective and realize that we live in the midst of certain rhythms of life. There are seasons where certain activities are emphasized, but those seasons change.

A time of intense caregiving may be followed by a time of relative peacefulness. The creative energies built up with years of struggle dealing with a disease, a mental condition, or a physical limitation may spring forth into new insight, a new invention, or a significant and fulfilling ministry of helping others to cope. Months and months of routine caregiving may be followed by the respite of a dream vacation.

All of us need to live within rhythms of life that involve work and relaxation, mundane physical tasks and intense mental energies focused on an issue, dark days of struggle and overflowing joy.

Sometimes, we need extra energy and extra grace to accept the next phase of our lives, a phase previously thought unbearable. That energy and grace can be present as we give ourselves to the God who sustains us in all situations. By opening ourselves to God, we can even find that deep level of joy that goes beyond circumstantial happiness.

On a down-to-earth level, it is in the community that this energy and grace is most often mediated. That is why it is so important to share that word of encouragement, that listening ear, or that hug that says, “I care.” That is why it is important to simply be present in a time of sorrow, to share the tears, and to say, “I hear you.” That is why it is important to both grieve the losses and share in the times of celebration when even those little dreams come to pass.

No, we may not be able to have it all. But as we count our blessings, we realize how much we do have. As we look back, we can surely see how much we have been given. It is particularly in those relationships that sustain us that we find the most satisfaction. We, the community of the tired, the weary, and the broken, are the ones who can best sustain each other as we each take advantage of the seasons of life when we can give back to others what has been given to us.

I pray that you might find that kind of community a reality in your life. Blessings on the journey!

Paul D. Leichty

Phone/Fax: 1-877-214-9838 (toll free)

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