Why Does It Have to Be So Hard?

“I don’t get it. Why is so hard to do good work?”

“I don’t know, honey,” my husband said. The creases in the corners of his beautiful brown eyes deepened, indicating he was trying to think of something to say that might help me with my struggle to understand why offering loving care to his father was always met with such resistance. He didn’t come up with an answer that night and neither did I

For weeks I prayed and asked God that same question. Why does it have to be so hard?

I got my answer one Sunday morning. When the priest began to speak after reading the gospel, I felt that he was talking directly to me.

“I’ve been hearing the same question over and over lately. ‘Why is life so hard? Why is it so difficult to do good works?’ A chill ran through me. God had heard my cry.

“I’m here to tell you,” the priest lectured, “No one ever told you it was supposed to be easy. There are many examples in the Bible of people being tested to their very limits. It’s in adversity that you grow in spirit. It’s when you step up and do the hard stuff God asks of you that you earn your place in heaven. So quit whining and do what you know has to be done and remember you are not alone. He is there for you when you need Him.”

After that, when things got very hard I tried to make light of it by telling Mike, “I earned my place in heaven today.” He believed it, even when I didn’t.

At first I couldn’t take the words of the priest to heart. I wanted a better answer. But, as things went on and the more I repeated the words, “I earned my place in heaven today,” the more at peace I felt. I was not alone. God was with me and by doing the hard work I was earning the grace to make it possible. Not easy. But easier. What I thought in moments of weakness and exhaustion to be impossible became possible. Being a caregiver is not a job that we can do alone. We need help from our community, our family and our friends and in the moments when all of them are too busy or too far away there is one who is always there.

 “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

Caregiver Cover WebClick Here to Order

Caregiver, Be Careful What You Pray For

Praying for help

“Please God, grant me strength.”

I have said those words many times. Like most people I have experienced love and loss, joy and pain, happiness and grief. During the good times I pray to say thank you for my blessings and to ask God’s protection for my loved ones. I pray for peace. Quite often I pray for things I want. (I’m no saint, after all.)

During the hard times I used to pray for the strength to see me through. I knew no matter how hard things became there would be an end to my suffering. I just needed to be strong enough to see it through. When I lost a baby via miscarriage I paced and prayed well into the night until exhaustion finally overtook me. I prayed so long so hard when my sister died I barely slept for weeks. As a single mother of four I dealt with the many challenges with hope and prayer every day.

Despite my almost constant request for strength my prayers never seemed to be answered. Instead of giving up I prayed more and I prayed harder. After all, God is busy and it often takes time for our prayers to be answered. I dug in and did my best to get through each crisis and when it was over I’d pray for the strength to get through the next one. I always knew more trouble would follow.

Then one day, as I was sharing my woes with a friend, I ended my tale with the same words I so often repeated. “God, grant me strength.”

“Oh Bobbi, don’t say that,” she said. “Look what you’ve been through. What you’ve survived. You’re strong enough already, don’t you think?”

“I know I’m strong but I never know what I’ll have to deal with next. I have to make sure I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

“That may be true but the last thing you need is to become stronger. Think about what you have to do to get strong. If you want to build muscle you lift heavy weights. The stronger you want to become the heavier the weight you have to lift and the more often you have to heft it. Is that what you want?”

“No. I want the burden to be lifted. I want help. I want to know how to solve the problem before it becomes too much for me.”

“Then that’s what you should ask for. Don’t forget that God endowed us with an intellect and free will. We are in charge of our lives. He assists us when asked but he doesn’t take over and fix our problems. He provides us with opportunities to work them out in our own way. When you ask for strength He provides you with opportunities to become strong. If you ask for patience you will be given opportunities to learn how to wait. Be careful what you pray for. Consider what you really need and ask for that.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you need help, ask for help. If you are lost, ask Him to show you the way. Whatever you do stop asking for strength.”

I thought about her advice for a long time. It made sense and it wouldn’t hurt to change the words to my nightly prayers. I stopped asking for strength.

Years later, after I had been a caregiver for a long time and things were especially hard, I prayed almost constantly for weeks.

“Please send help. Dear God, I need help. Please send help any way you see fit.” Despite my prayers Rodger ended up in the hospital again. Still I prayed. Even on the way to sit at his bedside and feed him I prayed. “I need help. Show me the path you want me to take.”

When I arrived at his room a man was standing at the door waiting for me.  He was a hospital social worker. “Mrs. Carducci, do you need help?”

Not sure I’d heard him right, I asked him to repeat what he’d said.

“I see in Rodger’s files that you’ve been caring for him for a long time and his needs are extensive. Do you need help?”

After taking the time to say a silent prayer of thanks in recognition to God for answering my prayers, I assured the man I did, indeed, need help. Before I left the hospital that day we were enrolled in a respite program that would mean I would have in-home help eight hours a week. I could finally get some rest. I could go to the grocery store. I could go to church and say a proper thank you.

Each night when I say my prayers I ask God to hold me in His love and light and show me the path He wants me to take. The road is often long and bumpy but I always end up where I need to be and I am grateful, and I am strong enough.

Next Newer Entries