‘I’m 68 and caring for our teenage grandchild. Lockdown is hard!’
Di’s story | The persistent love of God within thankless tasks
“I feel like I’ve been ‘persevering’ in my faith since 1982. That was when our four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with significant life issues. We moved to the city to get help for her. We received help, but it was often hard. Years later, another one of our children became involved with drugs, and had life-controlling issues. I was so worried. It was such a traumatic time. For the last ten years, I’ve also been helping to care for two of our grandchildren, and I’ve had full responsibility for a third, who is now a teenager. I’m 68. Lockdown is hard!
“I decided, some time back, to go and do a graduate diploma in Christian counselling. It brought up a lot of issues in my life! But it really helped. Afterwards, I got a job with Justice Health – a NSW Government network that provides health care services in custodial, inpatient and community settings. I had seen how our child had received help, and I wanted to help others – and combine my nursing background and counselling skills. I loved it!
“I was mostly working at the local correctional centre, but I also travelled around the state, doing primary health care, mental health, drug and alcohol counselling, with the inmates. I saw a lot of tough stuff, assaults and lying. Sometimes, the girls told me that their whole family had been incarcerated. There were women who had murdered their husbands after years of suffering domestic violence. During that time, though, I had opportunities to talk about spiritual things, and it was lovely to see the work of Kairos Prison Ministry in the prisons.
“I did that for 14 years, and then I got compassion fatigue. There’s a lot of burnout. You either burn out or you become tough as nails. As I look back, actually, most of my life has been spent helping others, in ways that are often thankless. People can be hostile or angry … and I’ve had my ups and downs. But I keep coming back to a hymn that was my mother’s favourite. ‘Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee.’
“That’s what I want to do. I want to rest my weary soul in God. Of course, there have been times when I’ve wanted to say to God that I can’t deal with him, as well as everything else. It’s all too much, so I have a whinge at him. But every time I feel like that, I try and come back to the truth that God will not let me go, ever. He’s persistent in his love for me, even when I might not be feeling it. I can rest my weary soul in him. And he’s big enough to handle my complaints. I can be honest with him, without being disrespectful. That keeps me going … and I need to keep going, for the sake of my kids and grandkids!
“There’s also a great passage in 2 Corinthians 4. Paul says he feels hard-pressed and struck down, but not crushed or abandoned. That’s me too. I know that I’m broken, struggling, and conflicted. But I try not to lose heart. Paul says that, ‘We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.’
“That helps me. It makes me want to do all these (often thankless) tasks, as if I’m doing them for the Lord. And I want to fix my eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (v 17-18)