by Larry George
Are you a worrier? Or a fix-it person? Well, I am both. When I see a problem or a situation, I can hardly contain myself. My worry tells me, “I need to fix it NOW!” And I also find myself thinking: “If you will do it my way it will be easier and less painful.”
This worry-and-fix mindset showed up in a big way when I was a caregiver for my dad. There came a day that we could no longer care for him while he lived at home. Just taking him for a regular doctor’s appointment was work. On one such occasion the doctor could see the stress on us. So, the doctor suggested that we put him in the hospital for a few days so they could observe him.
After four days in the hospital, the doctor concluded that the best situation would be to put my father in assisted living. My first thought? “Assisted living? No way! They can’t take care of him – only I can. If they would only listen to me and do it my way.”
The first night of my father’s stay at the assisted living residence, I fed him dinner and then went home, which was about a 25-minute drive. That night as I was getting ready for bed, I began to think about the last few days and began to second guess and worry. “Maybe they left him in the hall tonight,” I thought to myself. “Maybe he needs a bath? Is he in his PJs? Is he in bed?”
Then my Mr. Fix-It impulse took over. I was so worried and anxious that I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I got dressed and drove to where dad was living. It was 11:30 PM by the time I arrived and knocked on the door. When the night manager answered the door, she was very curt and said, “How can I help you? It’s 11:30 and everyone is sleeping.” I said, “I need to check my dad and see if he’s ok.” Very reluctantly she let me in. I walked into his room and saw dad sleeping quietly. He was clean and in his PJs. Satisfied, I went home.
There have been many occasions that I thought my way was the only way. I believed that if I worried enough, God would get so tired of me that he would do things the way I wanted.
The Bible has a lot to say about being anxious, about worrying, about trying to fix it ourselves. In less anxious moments, I know that my way is not the only way. As I read these verses in Philippians 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:7 I am reminded “Don’t worry about anything: pray about everything, tell him about what you need and thank him for what he has done.” And, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you.”
I wish I could say I was able to stop trying to fix everyone but I’m a work in progress. Here’s one thing that helps, courtesy of Abigail Van Buren (aka the advice columnist “Dear Abby”.) Years ago, she adapted a version of an inspirational poem and titled it, “Just For Today.” The poem encourages us to take it “one day at a time” – to focus on the task at hand, to accept what’s within our control and what’s not. And for me personally, that – and prayer – eases the worry a bit.
If you are a caregiver who is struggling with worry and the feeling like you must do it all (or others need to do it “your” way) perhaps my story will be of use to you. I send you blessings and a hope that your worry will diminish as you share your struggles with God.
About the author: Larry George is an Associate Pastor of Moore’s Chapel Baptist Church, Graham, NC. He and his wife Joyce enjoy ministering to others as a team and can often be found working with troubled families and visiting people in the hospital and stay at home seniors.