While every human being longs to be seen and supported, these longings become the clamant need of primary caregivers. In a world that celebrates flashiness over faithfulness, those who sit by bedsides tend to fall to the wayside. In a world that airbrushes to make already beautiful people even more beautiful, those who are sick and weak (and, thus, those who care for them) are quickly isolated and ignored, being relegated to rooms both literally and proverbially.
The Longing to be Seen
While I know these realities in a cognitive way, it is not until I am in the presence of the aging or the ill for extended times that the reality sinks into the heaviness it ought to hold in my heart.
Having spent only a few days with my precious parents-in-love in Texas last week, the heaviness of caregivers sits heavy with me. Watching my Amma offer costly care to my Appa who has been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for over a decade brings tears to my eyes. Her calendar is filled with appointments, not to get her hair done or to have lunch with a friend, but to receive physical therapists and occupational therapists into her home. Unable to leave Appa alone, she cherishes the twenty minutes of freedom offered her to run to the pharmacy and grocery store to fill his meds and their pantry.
This has been her everyday year after year. And she is not alone in this plight. Just yesterday, two precious older women at our church shared with me the weights they carry as primary caregivers for their aging parents. Another friend has spent the better part of her year sleeping amidst beeping machines and rotating orderlies in the hospital by her toddler who has cancer.
While these caregivers need gift cards and meals, they most long to be seen and known, to be remembered. They need to know that, in the midst of the re-ordering of their lives around others, they are not forgotten. A simple text, a note, a short visit… these go a long way to remind caregivers that they, too, are cared for and seen.
We Need to See their Service
As much as they need to be seen, those who are comparatively free, unhindered and healthy need to see their service. In a world where choice and independence reign as king and queen, these despots are dethroned by watching the lives of those who faithfully lay down their choices to care for the dependent. They give us enfleshed pictures of the way of Christ as laid out in Philippians 2.
Their rest-less sheet-changing and bath-giving routines remind us that a better rest is coming, that this world is not our home, that we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).
In a world where love is an ephemeral feeling, the committed and costly choices of caregiving love both depict in action the covenant love that God has for His people.
The One who Always Sees
In the Ancient Middle East, there was a tradition among the kings to keep a book of remembrance so that those who had been helpful to the king and his cause might be repaid for their service (see Esther 6:1-3 and Malachi 3:16-17). Such acts needed to be written down, because their subsequent rewards were not immediate. One can imagine that significant acts of bravery and prowess were recorded in these books.
The King of King and the Lord of Lords needs no such book. He is not in danger of forgetting. But, if He were to have such a book, we can be certain that the deeds and moments recorded therein would likely seem small and insignificant in the eyes of the world. Our God is a God who sees, even when we, His people, forget to see.
Oh, Lord, help us to see and support those who are serving as primary (or secondary, or tertiary) caregivers as we go about our busy days. Thank you for being the kind of King who sees and celebrates committed acts of love that otherwise would be unnoticed and celebrated. Make us more like you; shape us into the kind of people who live with your values and in light of eternity. Amen.