Before I got married, my husband and I knew we would face a number of situations we had to plan for and think through.
How will we handle our money?
Where’s the best place to live?
How will we balance our marriage with our work schedules, friendships, and “me” time?
Like marriage, there are many situations in our lives we eagerly jump into. We prepare willingly and fully for marriage, children, careers, school, and big purchases. It’s easy to be excited about positive next steps. But what about the situations that are a harder to think and talk about?
What happens when our aging parents begin to need our help? How do we mentally, physically, and spiritually confront situations we don’t even want to think about?
Five ways to honor your parents as they age
1. Be prepared.
Sometimes, we avoid difficult conversations because they are hard and awkward. Sometimes, we aren’t ready to think about what they mean. The truth is avoiding a situation isn’t going to stop it from happening.
As our parents age, we are going to encounter new opportunities to grow in humility and service. We can begin this process by planning for the inevitable. Proverbs 24:27 says, “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” This verse teaches us to take care of what is necessary first, and it is necessary to confront and prepare for situations that are going to arise.
2. Get everyone involved.
If you have been blessed with siblings, share in this opportunity to love, care for, and encourage your parents. Talk openly about the needs of your family, and work together to create a plan that meets those needs.
Taking on the responsibility of a caregiver can be stressful and challenging, but it is not a task that has to be shouldered alone. Creating a plan that includes all family members encourages unity — a family dynamic that will bring happiness to your parents — and discourages resentment, bitterness, and burn out.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “two are better than one...if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” We aren’t meant to do life alone, and that includes taking care of our loved ones. Proverbs 11:14 also reminds us that, “... victory is won through many advisers.” Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to seek help and guidance as we tackle transitions in life.
It’s impossible to know exactly what a new season of life will look like, but it is possible to be prepared for what is to come.
3. Embrace the awkward conversations, and make communication a priority.
Caring for elderly parents is expensive. It’s going to take time, and it’s going to be stressful. Sit down with your parents and your siblings, and make sure you are all on the same page. Know which resources are available, what will be needed, and how you are going to balance and manage each of your roles and responsibilities.
Sometimes honest and real conversations are the hardest to have with those who are closest to us, but Ephesians 4:25 reminds us to “...put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Not only are you one family with the common goal of caring for your elderly loved ones, but you are also members of one body of Christ with the common goal of showing Jesus’ love to those around you through your words and actions. Open, honest, and thoughtful communication helps everyone get to that end goal.
4. Love your parents.
Honor your parents’ dignity, and respect their independence. Realizing you can no longer fully care for yourself is a difficult thing. Letting go of control and independence to ask for help is even harder. Be sensitive to your parents’ emotions and feelings as you help them transition into this new stage of life.
Throughout Philippians 2, we are encouraged to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The Bible teaches us to be compassionate, selfless, tender, and humble in our relationships with others. These characteristics may not come easily in all situations, but they are essential as you seek to honor, serve, and love your aging parents.
5. Pray for your family.
Take the time every day to pray for your parents and all family members involved in their care. Ask the Lord for wisdom, patience, and the ability to handle this season of life with grace, humility, and love.
The Lord will never abandon us or forsake us. He asks us to call on Him when we need help and when we are unsure. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” As you tackle this new season, bring your anxiety, uncertainty, and weariness to the Lord.
It’s impossible to know exactly what a new season of life will look like, but it is possible to be prepared for what is to come. Facing situations head on with prayer, planning, and transparent communication honors our parents and creates a united front for the next season of life.
Article courtesy of NewSpring Church.