Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Caregiver - Worry and Prosperity

This world is crazy. Young people shooting babies, people shooting people in hospitals, low morals, drugs, theft - and this posting will surely be out of sequence, out of whack and bounce from thought to thought. I am flighty that way and my processes reflect it. It's the best that I can do today...
I'm a worry wart. Supposing I get that straight from my grandmother, she worried and worried and worried. She made her self sick worrying. My Uncle always said, "Some people just can't handle prosperity." WOW, I'm finally getting it.

Perhaps that's why I get to worry about other folks' worries, because I am so good at it. If you can assuage your worry by passing it on to me, then you can leave your worries at my feet. Because everybody knows that I will handle that part. I will worry for you, for me, for everybody. I will give you my time, my energy, my advise and then find that I am left with nothing. Empty, tired and alone.

I worried about what would happen to us when Bill got sick, I worried about what was to come, what was next, how he felt, how he would feel, how I would feel, how I could make it easier for our children if I carried the burden, if I was doing it right. I made rash decisions out of fear.

It was easy to take on the worry of the world, because I could distribute some of that worry on to Bill (back in the day). Then, when I found the stress associated with the worry exacerbated his condition, I took it all.

Lately, I worry about having so many leaves in the yard, where my kids are, their health and future, the end of the month. Understanding that it is all centered around fear and that it has gone on so long, it is a pattern, a part of my life, my make-up. Give it to me, I can handle it. That's been my mantra. I'm an enabler. I enable people to continually pass their worries and issues on to me.

But, I want to stop. I want to stop worrying. My remorse over the past and fear of the future is clearly Satan working within me. I've allowed it.

By grappling with the fact that my worry is a sign of fear, it struck me like a bolt of lightening...'Fear Is Not Faith'. Today, I want to no longer give Sin an ounce of power over me. I want to rest easy knowing that I can turn my worries over to God and let him carry the burden for awhile. I've had no FAITH.

Rather than resorting to my Bible only in the throws of too much worry, I have vowed to study and pray for peace and wisdom. I will remain FAITHFUL because my lack of faith has been a terrible and frightening thing. I seek rest of body, peace of mind, contentment of heart and a spiritual well-being.

Jesus reminds me, "Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (John.14:1)

In the last few days, I have intentionally turned so many worries and troubles over to God. Trusting that my faith in his word and HIS promise will end the worry, that HE will take good care of me. Rather than committing so much of my time to worrying over others and their problems and the issues they lay at my feet, I shall commit my way, my life, my thoughts and my time to the Lord. If I can just find the strength to worry over my own needs for a change and knowing that I cannot control others thoughts or actions would be a huge relief. Did I say control?

And therein lies the problem. I may think I've been in control, but quite the opposite. Did I control how long my husband lived with his illness? Did I control how the banks and creditors dealt with the business? Do I control the way others handle their affairs? Live their life? Do I control how others felt - valid or not? Do I control resentment or disdain from others? Can I control how much someone may love and respect me? Truth is, I control/controlled nothing. But by me insisting that I was in control, I relinquished any chance at prosperity.

I put so much stock and time into my family and friends and the problems and issues of others, that I lost myself. Admirable perhaps, honorable, maybe. Whether from my own guilt, my own remorse or my own actions, it's quite exhausting.

"I need you here, I need you there, I need you to get me out of hot water, I need your assistance, I need you to cook something for me, I need your advise, I need you to listen, I need you to read something, I need you to loan me something, I need you to fix something, I need you to deliver a message. I need you to be with me, I need you to act this way, I need you to not be who your are but who I want you to be. I need you on my own time and please be reminded that my needs are of utmost importance. My life is more important, my money and time are more valuable."

That's a recap of my day. My life. I am at a loss. And, I've done this to myself.

I witnessed my grandmother studying her Bible. Bible(s) as they we all over her house. In every room, in her car, in her purse. Going through her things, I continue to find scripture written on receipts, in her address book, in her handbags. She obviously prayed diligently, but not for herself. She prayed for her husband, for her sisters, for her children, for her grandchildren, for her Church, for her friends, for her President. In all of the earmarks, looking at all of the evidence, I find that she never prayed for herself. She worried so much for everyone else, that I had to step in and worry about her.

Was she afraid of prosperity? Is that why my Mother is who she is? Because she laid all of her burdens at my grandmother's feet for her to carry. And today, is in a constant search to find somebody to worry about her, for her, with her? Will this trait be unbroken in a family rife of worry, dysfunction, self-indulgence and pride? Is this the cycle?

One generation to worry, the next to worry over nothing, the next to worry, the next to worry over nothing. Does our over-indulgent self-serving generation beget the next generation of people who never have to worry? Who then beget a generation of people who then have to worry over the previous one in attempt to find a glimpse of humanity and humility? It's mind-boggling.

This morning a Bestie said, "Looks to me like Rhonda is fixing to get a life."

Could be. Can I stop? Can I stop doing the same thing over and over again as people have grown accustomed? As I have grown accustomed? Can I be less predictable with my actions, my availability and put my own needs first? Can I handle prosperity?

Because I have not does not mean that I do not covet a way of life that frees me from excuses. The worrying for all things; mine, yours and theirs - has given me an excuse. An excuse for why I am bound and destined to a life of emptiness. An enabler - all used up.

Oh, it's made me an exceptional caregiver, business owner, mentor and friend while putting the needs of others before my own. However, does validating myself and my importance in the their lives give me a special place in heaven. I've lied to myself that "I am all that".  However, the importance I've placed on myself for being all that to others does not even give me a special place in their lives.

There are instances that have led up to this posting. This raw awareness. What an eye-opener. It started one way, went another way and burst into flames this morning when I read yet another tragic story. Earlier this week, I posted this entry on Facebook...

"I am tolerant to a fault. Sports, Politics, Race, Religion, Gay or Straight, Rich and Poor, Able or Disabled. What bothers me is all the grand standing that takes place. Who cares? Looks to me like a whole lot of excuses. I can't ever remember standing on a stump screaming "I'm white, I'm a woman, I'm straight". If people spent more time and energy on the things that matter to society as a whole instead of the one thing that they're on the bully pulpit about (typically an individual or personal issue) we would all be a lot better off. There are better ways to wear your badge than ignorantly creating a platform for shock value.

What I failed to see, is that insomuch I find disdain for people's self-absorbed actions and voice my transparent self on others, very few people feel the same. The message was that people so want agreement for their way of life that they zero in on their ISSUE absent the feelings of others. However, my post was no different. I zeroed in on my disdain for it, which is my issue. My view of how the world should operate and society should be is certainly not shared. I get it.

With such a desire to be the best wife, best cook, best mother, best grandmother, best friend. And now, no husband, grandchildren in far away places, children doing their own thing, friends with family and lives of their own along with a hatred of the kitchen (once my favorite place to be).

Witnessing last night a family coming together for the birth of their first grandchild, the love and support, a beautiful miracle at such a wonderful time of year was bittersweet. Events such as this
remind me I will never share this with my soul mate. It was heart-wrenching. That I lost so much time with Bill by volunteering and attending to the needs of others burdens me today. The load that I carried in our 20 plus years together now haunts me. He left me with the results of our agreed upon dynamic. The manner in which we handled our affairs and nurtured our family. That I have not expressed or shown my personal pain in an attempt to be strong for others now backfires.

Digressing to Monday, a friend unknowingly expressed this message, "You have to be specific with your prayers."

So on my knees Tuesday night, I prayed for strength and wisdom. I prayed for relief. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for the protection and health of my loved ones and friends. But, I failed to specifically pray for me. My needs. It has taken me a few days and hours of prayer to realize this. For it too comes full circle. That the beginning of faith is the end of worry. Be specific.

To find my own place now will be a battle within myself. To cherish the memories without remorse, to pack up his things and put them away, to get through this season without a complete breakdown, to hold my tongue, to be good to myself, to make sure all know that I never step back from carrying the load with a reminder that the pain and hurt is shared. That Christmas is not about things, but about people. That we cannot control that people are killing and hurting others, nor can we control their grief. We cannot make them feel better, we cannot fix it. We cannot control the things others say nor their actions, but we can control how we worry.

And anyway, who am I to think that today someone may NEED me? There is no such person.

That I worry that all of the memories and traditions will be lost. That I find myself worrying if I am the only one who has placed such a high value on tradition, history and family. Is it just not that important? Not at all, it's that I'm just not that important. That's the fear. That is the worry.

Generally, one would never combine FEAR and Rhonda in the same text. Perhaps, FEARLESS would be a better description. So, my fearless actions were obviously a result of fear. Doesn't seem possible, however, that fear is the culprit and today my nemesis.

That we lost a child, a loved one, a friend. That we lost the man who protected us, I will “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee/me.” (Psalms 55:22).

With God as my witness, I take responsibility for my actions and my life, no excuses. I have and will pay the consequences. I will not blame anyone else for what I have brought upon myself. I believe being honest is the first step that I must take and I need to BELIEVE.

My specific prayers will change. I will continue to pray for you, but first I must pray for faith. Faith in God. Faith in myself. Specific prayers to lessen the pain. Prayers for my own salvation and prayers for God's specific plan for me.

I see now that he is the only one with broad enough shoulders to carry the load.

My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.

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