Caregiver burnout and senior pastors wives is a match although not made in heaven.
(Note: I know an apostrophe is missing, I did that above for SEO purposes)
Most people associate caregivers burnout with middle-aged children taking care of their elderly parents. Or they may think of those wonderfully, devoted loved ones caring for people with serious illness.
In fact, just today I was talking to someone in this very situation. As the only child, she alone bears the burden of caring for her ill parent. Our conversation was riddled with tears as she shared her own frustration and fatigue. I listened prayerfully. Then, she quickly added
“I love my father, Sister Teri, I really do. I’m just so, so tired.”
It seemed she almost felt guilty for being tired. Can you imagine that? This dear, selfless woman felt guilty for being tired – tired – the most human of feelings.
Caregivers should never feel guilty. Their service is a direct manifestation of God’s magnanimous care and provision. As I mentioned, they are human which only means their resources are at times limited. That’s all that means; it means nothing else.
While I’m extending blessings, let me extend the same blessing to you.
When people speak of caregivers, they don’t often (if ever) think of senior pastor’s wives. But, they should.
Think about it for a moment. Ponder all the people that rely on you for support, provision, encouragement, a listening ear and even a cheery Sunday morning greeting. Unless you’re rejecting them and offering them nothing; you are a spiritual caregiver in my book.
In some online article (I can’t remember which one), I read people often treat us as informal extensions of our husbands (the senior pastor). They pile on their complaints, concerns, apprehensions, hopes and issues. That’s ok; I think they should do so if it helps them. After all, if we can be a blessing to anyone at all, I think we should strive to do so, don’t you? Now, I’m fortunate my husband has a strong support of wonderful ministers, staff and deacons. Because of them, I don’t carry 1/3 of the load some pastors’ wives carry. I’m not saying this boastfully, but just to acknowledge the ones who do and say “I see you”. I see the senior pastor’s wife saddled with everything from ministering, visiting, phone tree calling, driving the church van to typing church programs. You’re not invisible. I see you and, more importantly, God sees you. Sister to sister: I honor you as a valuable caregiver to whom honor is due.
A confirmation from research
Have you heard of WebMD? It’s an online medical web resource of thousands of articles. I love the way it thoroughly explains medical conditions, lists symptoms and explains a myriad of possibilities (some of which will scare the ba-jeezus out of you).
Anyway, I happened upon an article entitled “Are You on Your Way to Caregiver Burnout?” Not sure why, but I clicked the link to learn more. OMG! So much of it sounded eerily familiar. For instance, the article states people in danger of caretaker burnout may:
- Withdraw from friends and family
- Lose interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feel blue and irritable
- Have a change in your appetite or weight
- Your sleep patterns get out of whack
- Get sick more often
Is it me or do these symptoms sound incredibly similar to stress? This WebMD article sparked my interest, so I hopped over to the Mayo Clinic website to see what they say about stress. Here’s what I found to be [some] common effects of it:
- Social withdrawal
- Anxiety and Restlessness
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Overeating or under-eating
- Sadness or depression
Do you see the parallels? Caregivers burnout seems to be a very “close cousin” to stress. Do any of the above hit home for you?
If you’re a senior pastor’s wife, I’ll bet some do. Don’t worry. They sound quite familiar to me too.
I think caregivers burnout is a negative birthed from a positive. The very root word of the condition is “care” – that’s positive, right?
We get into trouble when we lose balance in how we care for others. When we yield all your emotional and physical capacities, it leaves us depleted and vulnerable to caregivers burnout.
Sure, it’s important to be a blessing, but never to the point of detriment. Diana Ross (the great theologian – just kidding) said during an Oprah interview years ago: “We must take care of ourselves or we can’t take care of those we love”. I’ve never forgotten those wise and timeless words.
Even Jesus modeled this for us when He escaped to the mountain to pray. He couldn’t give everything He had without being replenished by the Father. What a lesson for us to learn. He was in a temporary human condition with limitations, just as we are. He showed us where to go for refueling.
It’s only in prayer that we can really cast our burdens on the Lord. Nothing else will do.
In order to keep caregivers burnout at bay, make your quiet time with the Lord your top priority. Don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for being tired or drained. Remember, you’re only human. Prayer will be your saving grace and it’s where you will find grace and help in your time of need.
No, I’m not talking about praying while you’re pushing your cart through Target. Nor am I talking about praying in the car while driving to Ulta (don’t you love that place????) . Those quickie prayer moments are ok, but they are restrictive and prone to distractions. Instead, I’m talking about that sweet hour of prayer when we turn off the radios, TVs and iPads and bask in His presence. During that time we quiet ourselves to where we can almost audibly hear His beautiful, sweet voice. During those times, He’ll tell you what to do (i.e. get more rest, less time with that negative friend, less Wendy Williams, etc.).
When these moments become part of our routine, we can’t help gaining strength and regeneration. What do you think? What else can we do?
Hey, come back or subscribe. Soon, I’ll post part two listing what WebMD says we can do.
I love you! I really do.
Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior
Are You on Your Way to Caregiver Burnout?
Married to a Pastor.com is a blog for pastors wives focused on offering encouragement for a pastor’s wife as well as insight on being a pastor’s wife…from one pastor’s wife to another.