The Halftime Journey and Caring for Loved Ones
I caressed her swollen face, looking deeply into her eyes and said, “Mom, I love you; you are going to be with Jesus,” tears now filling my eyes. The next morning she saw Jesus face-to-face.
My Halftime Journey had seemingly been disrupted three months earlier when Mom, age 83, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and we moved her into a nursing care facility. While the staff of the nursing facility worked with Mom to strengthen her as a possible candidate for surgery, I suddenly realized I was on a journey I knew little about.
When my sister and I drove Mom and Dad to the University of Michigan hospital for consultation with the neurosurgeon, we found out Mom needed to be hospitalized immediately. She died twelve days later. Navigating these once-in-a-lifetime waters with Dad, 86, challenged me too. I sought what I thought was best for him, only to find my approach and ideas were not always in line with his. Difficult. Hard. Seemingly unrewarding at times. God started showing me that trying to “fix something” wasn’t the same as caring. God was taking me deep into my own “heart journey” and showing me that for a season of time my “Ephesians 2:10 Calling” was not only to coach others in Halftime, but serve and care for aging parents. This episode was not happening in parallel to my Halftime Journey. It was central to my journey. I was learning more about myself than I’d planned or imagined.
“What is care? The word finds its origin in the word kara, which means to lament, to mourn, to participate in suffering, to share in pain. To care is to cry out with those who are ill, confused, lonely, isolated, and forgotten, and to recognize their pains in our own heart. To care is to enter into the world of those who are broken and powerless and to establish there a fellowship of the weak. To care is to be present to those who suffer, and to stay present, even when nothing can be done to change the situation.” Henry Nouwen, A Spirituality of Caregiving
Knocking Us Off Balance
For those of us on the Halftime journey, many will face the challenge of caring for aging parents or other loved ones somewhere along the way. And while we may have become very adept at solving difficult problems in our business environment, we find ourselves less than prepared to take on the complex challenges of eldercare. We find deep relational and emotional issues that are not easily solved by our traditional decision trees. Our role reversal with parents who have given their lives for us can knock us off balance. Dealing with family members who have differing perspectives on how to handle the situation at hand can create challenging dynamics. We may find it stressful — and even lonely — as we face the uncertainty and feelings of inadequacy with the issues at hand. These are issues that go deep to the heart…. and challenge our values and our plans.
Our well-laid-out Halftime game plan centered around our Core, Capacity and Context is suddenly disrupted and we begin to wonder if the roadmap we designed so carefully makes any sense at all. While we may attempt to prepare for elder care, it comes with its own timing and nuances. It chooses us and it calls the shots. Caring for aging loved ones is a normal part of the cycle of life. For some of us, God has destined that this role be played right in the middle of our Halftime journey.
The Importance of Caring
Caring for our parents, the elderly, the sick and the needy is a central teaching found throughout the Bible. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, there was one that came with a promise:“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you – Exodus 12:20.” Jesus underscored the importance of this command in his teachings, confronting those who had decided to put their own agendas before the support of parents in need.
So caring for aging parents and loved ones, albeit a season of time, is fully aligned with the good works God prepared for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10). It is a means by which to honor and love them, even when they may be unable to understand or appreciate it. In doing so, we are likely to find within our Core, strengths that God has equipped us with for just this season. We will have an opportunity to see in our Capacity, that the time and finances required can be viewed as an investment in the Kingdom rather than a drain of resources. The importance of prayer and time in God’s word will take on a new perspective in seeking the spiritual overflow necessary to sustain us each day. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
By Steve Ivaska