Lately, I have been walking through a unique season in my life that has me thinking about the nuances of love we don’t often hear about. Yes. Love can be beautiful, fulfilling, and life-giving, but there are seasons when love is simply a challenge — when love is sacrificial love.
Last year, my husband and I decided that we would move his dad in with us to care for him. He lived over an hour away and had fallen a couple of times. It was clear he couldn’t live alone any longer. However, we had just become “empty nesters,” and truth-be-told, we were… loving it. My husband and I married young and began having our children almost immediately. The idea of being just the two of us in our early 50’s was something we had always longed for. Now, our current reality looks nothing like the vision we had for this season of our lives.
In an effort to bring more joy into our circumstances, I decided I was ready for another dog. An adorable, cuddly, loving girl that looks like a teddy bear. My very own therapy dog. Amazing, right? Well…yes, except for the potty-training messes, the nipping, and all of the work I seemed to have forgotten all about from my previous dog owner experience. Clearly, I underestimated what would be required of me. Perhaps I focused too much on the joys and not the sacrifices?
As I journey through these seasons, God has been gently reminding me that it is all about LOVE. Yes, the love of God towards us is beautiful. He does offer us His peace and draws us to His heart. He calls us by our name and even sings over us. He loves us at our ugliest. He sees our hearts despite our weaknesses and couldn’t love us any more than He already does. He loves us as we are. His perfect love for us is revealed on the cross –the most gruesome and painful image.
I pray as we navigate the different seasons of this life, we may embrace all of the love God has for us. May we recognize with clear vision the way He lavishes His love on us and how His love changes us for the better. When the seasons of challenging, sacrificial love come…and they will…I pray they always draw us even closer to the all-encompassing love of our Savior.
“We love because He first loved us” – 1 John 4:19 NIV
Director of Development
My wonderful, sweet Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had metastasized to the bones of the spine & pelvis in June 2016.
I am a happily celibate single woman (never married, never had children) who has been living in my own place since I was 30 (1985). I love my freedom & the opportunities it provides to serve in various Church ministries & community.
I had 2 very wonderful aides to help my Mom & I was working per diem, with flexible hours as a speech/language therapist (as I still am). I wound up needing to stay approximately 4 nights per week with Mom, resting in a recliner in the adjoining room which used to be my old bedroom, so I could tend to my Mom’s needs for part of 2016, all of 2017, Mom was in a rehab for a broken ankle for most of 2018, so her aides & I took turns staying with her at the rehab during the days but I was able to go home at night, & then Mom was back home & I resumed staying 4 nights per week with Mom in 2019 until her hospitalization, rehab, back to the hospital & her going home to the LORD on June 15, 2019. I was very blessed that my Mom was still in her right mind, still intelligent, sweet, gentle & very appreciative until the end. But obviously this time, although it was a privilege to care for the Mom who always loved & cared for me so much, involved sacrifice of some sleep & some limit of my time I would usually spend in Church ministry & community except for a my weekly choir practice, my service as lector & Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion a few times per month at the 4:30pm Saturday Vigil Mass & my singing in the choir at noon Sunday Mass (which I considered my “unshakeable unbreakable ministries”)..
I realize that I have been very blessed in being able to avoid the burdens, sacrifices, responsibilities & aggravation that marriage & motherhood involve. These 3 final years of my Mom’s life were the times I finally experienced at least some of what it means to love sacrificially.
I must confess that I am grateful that Mom is with the LORD & free from her suffering & that I now have my freedom & free rein to serve in my various Church ministries (except for the time the churches were closed due to approximately 3 months of quarantine resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic). But I know that JESUS was loving Mom through me & giving me strength and that this was a special time in which GOD called me to love sacrificially as Mom’s part time caregiver. In loving & serving Mom I was loving & serving JESUS, & Mom & I were giving & receiving the love of JESUS in & through one another.
Arlene, what a beautiful way to honor your Mom and God. Thank you for sharing your story with us! It truly is inspiring to see how God has faithfully guided you through all of it! He is faithful and He is close. May His ever-present love continue to guide you as you serve Him faithfully. Blessings to you!
That was beautiful! I had to care for my Dad as well for about 2 1/2 years. It wasn’t easy but he died at home like we promised him he would. He passed in September at the age of 95 and I miss him very much, but on the other hand I know he is happy in heaven with Jesus and my Mom, siblings and his parents. God protects us no matter what.
Take care and be well.
Amen Fortune! What a blessing to know that God does in fact protect us. Thank you for sharing your story. Your family is blessed to have you!
You would have more positive comments on this post if it was inspiring. But it isn’t. God tells us to honor our parents. Period. It’s a privilege to take care of our sick parents, no matter how much it may disrupt your plans of being an empty nester. Instead, you feel that you need “to bring more joy into our circumstances.” Imagine how your father in law would feel reading that? He would feel like a burden. I hope you pray before you post things like this in the future.
Thanks for your feedback Michelle. My hope was to make the very point that my pride and selfishness get in the way of loving how Jesus does. He loves us even when we think of ourselves above others or his plans and purposes. We can always do better when we consider what He calls us to… And my Father-in-law knows we all needed more joy in our circumstances and he agrees.
“Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”