None of us are immune to health challenges, whether they are personal or affect someone close to us. A major health crisis can threaten to throw the balance off in every area of our life, consuming our time, energy, and faith for a season or longer. Is it possible to carve out time for rest, even in the midst of a health battle?
In October 2014, my daughter Annie began experiencing excruciating pain under her tailbone radiating down her legs. We couldn’t find any way to alleviate the pain clawing at her 24/7. We battled to find a diagnosis for nine months. Since July 2015, doctors diagnosed her with an impacted sciatic nerve and despite attempting different treatments, have yet to find the right answer to her pain. She has surgery scheduled for July 15 of this year, and we aren’t giving up on praying for a miracle healing for Annie.
During the first nine months of Annie’s battle, when we were living in the midst of so many unknowns, I completely neglected rest in my own life. Many of my nights were short or interrupted, because she needed me for emotional support as she battled through the pain and questioned why this was happening to her. Lack of balance in my own life left me sick a lot during those nine months as I was fighting to keep her alive.
After we got through those first nine months, I knew something had to change. Not only did I get sick, but as I was consumed with taking care of Annie, my relationship with my husband, Chris, suffered. I was going to lose my marriage if I didn’t put up some boundaries. I knew God didn’t want this to happen, so I decided to make some changes.
Five Caregiver Musts During a Health Battle
- Start the Day with Prayer. While it sounds simple, doing this makes all the difference. When I don’t pray first thing in the morning, I feel different, and my day feels different. I need time with God to center my day and set my priorities in a way that honors Him.
- Stay in God’s Word. For several years, I started my day with some Bible reading as part of different Bible study groups I was in. Last July, I started a “Bible in a year” study and committed to share a summary of what I read with Annie every day. Now, I look forward to diving into God’s Word each morning and encouraging my daughter with the Truth found in scripture. Bible reading isn’t a chore. I can’t wait to start my mornings in God’s Word!
- Surround Yourself with Support. There is no way we would have gotten through the health battle we have been fighting without our amazing community. Nine months ago, God delivered an angel to us in the form of Annie’s boyfriend, Adam. I am so grateful for the support and love he gives her every day. Here are other ways our community has been a lifesaver these past few years:
- For the last eight months, my friend, Melinda, organized meals to be delivered three times a week. Not only has this been a huge relief for my “to do” list, but now Annie has built-in visitors three times each week. This has been an amazing blessing to our whole family.
- As friends offer to help, I have tried to focus on using their strengths in serving us. Sue helps me with “property management” at our home, and Savannah bakes us a yummy plate of treats each week. By allowing our friends to serve us in ways that match their strengths, their service remains a blessing to all of us.
- Annie has a difficult time being alone, so friends have stepped up and offered to stay with Annie overnight so Chris and I can get away and focus on keeping our marriage strong. Vince and Melanie have stayed with Annie at least ten weekends! We also have friends that step in when I need to travel. I am so grateful to these friends who allow me to get away, rest, and invest in my marriage and other relationships.
- Most importantly, thousands of friends and colleagues all over the world are praying daily for Annie’s healing and for God’s purposes to be fulfilled through her battle. The 4word sisterhood has been incredibly faithful in prayer support and other acts of encouragement. We could not do this without a strong, committed community.
- Take Care of Yourself. This can be so hard to do when a loved one is suffering. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising are non-negotiables for me. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you, in turn, care for others? For the first nine months of Annie’s battle, I did not take care of myself, but recently, I have focused on taking care of my physical needs too so I can be there for Annie when she needs me.
- Be Intentional About Time with Your Spouse. I’ve learned that when a family member is very sick, in some ways the entire family gets the illness. To keep our marriage strong during Annie’s battle, Chris and I have been intentional about alone time together, whether at home in Dallas or away.
Even today, twenty months into Annie’s health battle, I often remind myself of Matthew 11:28, which says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I have to remind myself that God always provides and He won’t stop for Annie and our family. God has also provided a wonderful team to lead 4word, which takes tremendous pressure off of me.
If you are waging a health battle for yourself or someone you love, remember that God promises to give us rest when we come to Him. Carve out time for prayer and let His Word wash over you, even when it feels like you don’t have one extra second in your day. And above all, don’t stop praying for His healing and for His purposes to be fulfilled through the battle.
Please click here to receive these impactful blogs automatically to your inbox.