What’s the Plan?

— Daphne Reiley

What’s the plan?  Just tell me, please.

Have you ever prayed such a prayer as that when in the midst of a confusing and painful time in your life?  I certainly have.

I have found that such a prayer, such a strong cry to God comes from my self who needs to know what’s coming next.  Is the pain that I’m in going to stop anytime soon?  Are the plans that I have made going to come to fruition?

Just tell me, please.

Tub  Silence.

More pain, more confusion.  Why won’t God answer such a simple question?  A simple yes or no question.

In caregiving, sometimes we get so focused on what’s next, on the next procedure, the next struggle, the next meal even, that we forget to be present to what’s happening right in front of us.

Jesus calls us to be present.

Be present to those we are serving, those we are bathing, those we are feeding, those we are caring for in the most intimate ways.  Sometimes it is so very difficult to be present in those times.  When the attitude of our loved one stinks, when the caring act itself stinks, when our attitude stinks, it all can be so overwhelming.  Why, O why, can’t we absent our minds, our senses for a minute.

We can.  We can let our minds wander as our hands help.  We can, yes.  Yet, as we do, we leave the one we are caring for facing this situation all alone.  Ouch.  That’s hard to write and even harder, I imagine, to read.  It’s true though.  What are we missing in our relationship with our loved one when we check-out? wheelchair

Nine years ago I had an emergency hysterectomy that left me weak and bedridden for about 10 weeks.  I still remember how hard it was to allow people to care for me, for my family in the simplest of ways.  I was faced with allowing my friends to come in and clean my house, cook our meals, meet my kids at the bus and supervise homework and after school snacks – and help me to the bathroom, help me clean the incision, help me with my binder, help me turn over in the bed, hold me when I would sob in grief at losing my creative center.

It was so very hard, so very intimate, and – did I say this already – VERY hard.  Yet, I cannot imagine having gotten through the experience with my friends without their attention, without their willingness to be present to me in all my recuperative needs.

Jesus calls us to be present.   peanuts

By being present, we see the gratitude in our loved one’s eyes.  We see the words waiting behind their eyes, wanting to be said, identifying some deep need that we wouldn’t see if we checked out.

No one is perfect in this regard.  There are times when it is all too much, certainly.  Yet, take heart.  Know that Jesus is with you, giving you a shoulder, a hand, a heart to care.

Go ahead and ask that question – O God, what’s next.  God is showing us along the way what is next – we simply have to stay in the present to see the answer.

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