“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NLT
People who write about raising funds for non-profit organizations often talk about donor burnout. But burnout is not exclusive to non-profit donors. It is a real-life hazard for caregivers too.
The daughter of my father’s older brother, Patti, was in her third decade of life. I was a pre-teen child. Her face and speech patterns, her mannerisms and capabilities were childish, even in my childish estimation. I didn’t like being around her. The explanation was that something had gone wrong when she was being born. In the acceptable lingo of the 1940s she was “feeble-minded”.
I listened to the conversations between my parents and hers. Even as a child I could sense a significant level of pain, uncertainty, fear, and financial duress. How should they care for her now and in the future? What would become of her when they grew older and could no longer care for her themselves? Where could they find help? Every aspect of their life was complicated by Patti’s condition. Caring for her pressed them physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically, socially, and financially. I would not have been able to use those words at the age of seven or eight but I sensed it at an emotional level. And in retrospect I can now understand it intellectually. Patti, my “feeble-minded” cousin, and the challenges that faced my uncle Vern and aunt Ina are forever etched in my psyche.
My uncle and aunt and Patti have all passed on into eternity now but she and the adult conversations I overheard remain embedded in my world view. The world is filled with people who need help. It is our responsibility as humans under God to help them. Vulnerable humans are not to be disposed of, they are to be respected and cared for. And providing care can make us weary and hard pressed.
The verses quoted at the beginning of this piece were written to encourage financial giving for the needs of others. But they are equally applicable to those who give of themselves in directly caring for others. We do it willingly, because we love, as God does. And God understands when we are weary and perplexed.
The promise in that passage is that the grace of God will abundantly give us what we need to persevere in loving and self-giving. “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others.”
A prayer that givers of all kinds can pray: Thank you, Heavenly Father, that You don’t leave me alone. As I willingly give of myself, you have promised to shower your grace upon me, so I will always have plenty of all I need to keep on giving. I believe your promise and, right now, I take it for myself. Amen.
Is burnout dogging your path from the constant demands of caregiving? Use the comment window to let us know how we can pray for you.