Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Before I dive in head first to the waters of exploring this dark brushstroke, I want to make sure I am being mindful of the grace that has been extended to me. About the place that the heart was painted into the canvas, is a large patch where the paint went dark. It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense in its placement. This brushstroke in the canvas is still fresh paint. As it was recently painted, I am examining it very carefully.
This dark brushstroke called… the death of a caregiver, has it’s beauty in the depths of its painful shadows and lines. It has been 15 months since it was painted there. And for some time it has dominated the hues around it. As I look at this canvas each day, it has become less bold in its placement, but I still notice it as I pass by it each day, going about my daily life.
Being a caregiver… is an amazing honor, especially when you are fulfilling the vows of a marriage. To stand by and walk close to one you have spent years loving and cherishing, and to know the meaning, in its truest form, of “for better or for worse and until death do us part” is a life changing experience. The hours and moments of sitting together, hearing bad news, watching chemo treatments and seeing the deterioration of a body once so strong… this is a glimpse into the window of a warrior’s heart with his caregiver’s heart close by. I do not say this because I am so special and have done something so wonderful. I say this because, my heart will never be the same, it is forever changed into a sensitive and scarred place, that needs to express God’s great and amamzing hand. A heart that has seen the most beautiful light grow brighter as the body faded. To be a caregiver is to die to yourself in a way no one will ever understand. It is laying aside dreams and interests, because this dear one has become your dream and all you are interested in. And when that diagnosis turns into the worst nightmare…. to be a caregiver is to live in a shrunken world, everything around you fades and dims to the light of that shadow that hangs over your home. Every second of everyday is filled with as much life as possible. The five minutes of conversation, between weariness and pain, becomes a lifetime. To be caregiver to a spouse is the ultimate expression of love. Though I’d never wish the dying process or the watching of it on anyone, I must say, it is beautiful to be able to be near and see the Lord become a beacon others are drawn to. I believe in my beloved ones illness, he gave more to me then I could ever give to him. He took me to the gates of heaven with him. Though it was not my time to go, my beloved made it possible for me to see life through dying eyes. And as He neared the end with one foot in heaven, he whispered of how dear Jesus was to him. With pain in his eyes, he read God’s word in a way that made you feel God was literally speaking to us. So, I share this…. to express the depth of this place. It consumed my every fiber, and then… it was all gone.
Hense the dark brushstroke, when my beloved died… the caregiver died. All I’d poured into the care of my husband, was removed when he went to heaven. And for a time, I became a wanderer. Wandering from room to room in my home, wondering what my purpose was. I sat in a chair, head in my hands. I stood staring out the windows, noticing life out there was moving and going and progressing though I felt mine had stopped. And so, the death of a caregiver, caused me to feel that I had died too. I’d forgotten how to dream, live without a crisis or the anticipation of bad news, to be able to leave my home and not worry. I had forgotten how to live, that I was created with purpose beyond the caregiver. And the dark brushstroke just seemed like it penetrated every fiber of who I was. I was dying.
But He searched my heart, and wanted to know me. He knew the purpose of my life before I was born. Caregiver was only a piece of the whole. And as memories filled my soul, I realized He was calling me. And so… here I stand… awaiting the next step. I anticipate joy and seek grace for each step. Yes, the caregiver died. It was a painful path I treaded upon. To have the painful and beautiful end. I am becoming a sojourner. He has a purpose for me, I am welcomed and invited into a place of love and hope. This brushstroke is becoming a reminder of love, that I still hold dear. Though dark, it shines somehow and its placement makes more sense today then yesterday.
I close my eyes… I whisper a short prayer for strength and I hold fast to the hand that has been waiting for me to come. I breath of the mercy and grace, surrendering the need to control and reaching up to Jesus and asking for direction. Taking the steps of faith, and carrying the memories of a caregiver in my heart. The honor and beauty of it, as God would have it to be. I am not singing or dancing yet, but I am learning the steps and the words…. so I can someday.