The journal entry for that day says, “I think in years to come Nelson and I will look back on today and say, ‘It was that day when we got old.’” Now, years later, I think I was right. It was the day when it was all just too much. When another step was just not possible. When the next prayer just could not be voiced. When even breathing took unimaginable effort and all reasoning was spent. It was that day when everything in us screamed E-N-O-U-G-H.
If you, too, have been a caregiver to a loved one struggling with mental illness for many years, I suspect you, too, have a bookmark on a moment when you thought you had given your last drop of patience, your concluding whisper of hope, your final tear. You were done.
Then, like us, perhaps from somewhere else came a strength that you still cannot quite explain or a solution developed that you could not have imagined. Prayers prayed weeks ago were suddenly answered and you rose from feeble knees to begin again.
We press on, weary, worn and, yes, aged. But the miracle is that, despite our weaknesses and because of God’s sufficient grace, we are able to stand again.
What happened after that date noted in my journal? We saw a breakthrough that brought a sustained march toward recovery for Douglas. We learned anew that God is great and God is good. We grew stronger in faith, wisdom and compassion.
Others pen different next chapters. Some families lose their loved ones to drugs, jail, the streets or death. But those who continue to depend on God (even those who do not see recovery for the one suffering with mental illness) can and do find recovery for their own broken hearts and renewed power to stay the course of faith one more day.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30,31 ESV)