We Don’t Have What it Takes to Care for Our Parents

by Kathy Howard

When my husband and I were young parents, our church friends had an ongoing joke that reflected the challenge of raising little humans. We designated that carefree time of life before the arrival of the first offspring as “BC” – before children. Before children we enjoyed spontaneous outings, a little extra spending money, and a good night’s sleep.

But after the children’s arrival, all that changed. Grocery store trips required hours of preparation. Paychecks often ran out before the next payday. And we regularly navigated our days in a sleep-deprived state. Caring for little ones was tough. Then they grew to be teenagers and parenting stretched us to new lengths.

Now, with our children grown, we can look back and clearly see how God sustained us with His grace through every stage of parenting.

Then we totally skipped the empty-nest stage. The summer our last child left for college, my 80-year-old father-in-law arrived. One young birdie flew out and one old birdie flew in.

Granted, Pappaw only needed a little assistance during the first years he spent with us. Then his health began to decline and he experienced one major problem after another. As doctors, medication, lengthy hospital stays, surgeries, and rehab dominated his life, he needed us more and more.

For a season, I was helping both my husband with his father and making regular trips to care for my own parents. I desperately wanted to do the right things, but the responsibilities felt heavy, draining.

I quickly realized I don’t have what it takes. I’m ill-equipped to make good decisions for my parents. I lack the spiritual strength to love and care for them unconditionally. One minute I want to hug them and tell them everything will be alright and the next I want to force them to “listen to reason.”

Many of you are there now – overwhelmed with the needs of your parents. With the responsibility of caring for them. Like me, you don’t have what it takes to do it well.

But I know Someone who has everything we need and more. Caring for aging and ill parents challenges us daily and can stretch us to the breaking point. But, by His power and grace, God will give us everything we need to care for them and live a life that pleases God “through our knowledge of Him who called us” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV).

As we abide in Jesus, God’s powerful provision flows through this life-giving connection. The power is Christ in us, working through us to minister to our parents. Caring for our parents is a joint venture with God. As we step out in obedience, God provides the power to fuel our efforts. God doesn’t promise the task will be easy. But He does promise our efforts in Him will make a difference.

Today, let’s take a deep breath and settle into the amazing truth that our powerful God will provide everything we need for this journey. Let us draw close to Jesus and hold tight.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? Kathy Howard’s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a guide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions for reflection.

 Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 30DaysHope_AgingParentsCover 300RGBfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kathy’s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What can you do each day to purposefully stay connected to Jesus? How will abiding in Jesus strengthen you for your God-given task?

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “We Don’t Have What it Takes to Care for Our Parents

  1. Abiding in Jesus through prayer and meditating on His word will help us recognize our God-given tasks. Often I weary myself by taking on something that is not “in my lane.” My parents are gone now and walking them to Jesus was at once stressful and holy. Having a good support group and clinging to Jesus was key to getting through that season. Focus on Him. Let Him guide you.

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  2. Love the phrase “ listen to reason”. That is tough area to navigate with my parents. I don’t often know where to begin the conversation. I frequently just try to offer an encouraging word and redirect the bitter thoughts that they express to positive. “ whatever is lovely…think upon such things”. That’s all I got, the word and a prayer.

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  3. It’s a blessing to care for your parents! I thank God each day for giving me the opportunity for spending the pass five years caring for them while living with them in Canada.

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