During the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at various ways people connect with God. In his book, “Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God,” writer Gary Thomas identifies caregivers as those who love God and feel closest to Him when they are actively serving others.
It is this person we take a closer look at this week.
If you are a natural caregiver you will feel God’s presence and believe you are serving Him best when you are sitting at the bedside of your elderly neighbor, or preparing a meal for a couple overwhelmed by the needs of a new baby. “Service” and “compassion” are words you find appealing, you would rather help someone directly than teach a class, attend a retreat, spend time in daily prayer, or take a solitary walk along a Whidbey beach.
Caregivers experience a deep and growing love for God while loving others. They thrill with the idea that myriad ways to serve others is not a chore, but a form of creative worship.
They readily embrace the idea that faith represents itself best in social mercy. They believe that you can’t possibly be a person of faith and walk away from people’s needs.
If you can’t imagine sitting beside an elderly friend in a memory care facility and finding any hope or growing love for God, never fear! We don’t need to narrowly define caregiving as serving those in assisted living facilities. If you have a caregiver’s temperament, you are also visionary. You will discover many avenues of loving God by serving others.
Consider this list of possibilities:
• Helping someone who is facing a personal crisis.
• Driving someone to their cancer treatments.
• Helping with canned food drives to benefit Help House.
• Helping to build a Habitat for Humanity home.
• Joining a local service club like Soroptimists International or Lions or VFW.
• Helping an illiterate person learn to read.
• Building food gift bags for Thanksgiving.
• Purchasing Christmas gifts for children whose parents are financially struggling.
• Mowing a neighbor’s lawn.
• Stacking firewood for a friend.
• Becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.
• Driving a friend to worship services at the church of their choice.
• Changing someone’s oil in their car.
Caregivers must be cautioned: serving others does not give one license to judge others who serve in different ways. Likewise, they must avoid serving for attention or creating co-dependent relationships.
Caregiving at its very best gives people opportunities to witness to God’s existence. It also allows caregivers the chance to demonstrate their spiritual experiences in very practical ways.
With the holiday seasons drawing near, opportunities abound for you caregivers. Team with others. Ask questions. Look around. Trust that whenever you share your time and resources you will be teaching others that they have valuable gifts to share. You’ll be amazed to meet others who are driven to service just as you are. Whidbey is, after all, filled with an amazing confederation of gifted and caring residents. You will only meet them when you step out in faith.