Is there some aspect of raising children, going to work, dealing with family members, or caring for others, that you resent? Are you resentful toward the spouse who died and left you all alone?
Resentment in caregivers…
Three people, one theme.
I had three conversations yesterday that involved the word “resentment”. The first was a conversation with a lady who had been caring for her husband more than a decade. The second was with a woman whose ex-husband was recklessly spending money on his hobbies while not adhering to the divorce agreement. The third was with a cashier in the mall. She used the word “resentment” in regards to the job she quit earlier in the day.
Twice might be coincidence, but not three times.
Was it any wonder that the word “resentment” came up two different times, prior to me meeting the cashier whose checkout line I was in? God usually allows us to hear things on a number of different levels before He requires us to use those concepts to minister to others.
If the first two ladies had not shared their resentment with me early in the day, I would not have been prepared to handle a random stranger telling me her problems at 9 pm. Yet, by the end of the day, something prompted me to just listen.
Listening defuses resentment.
The sales clerk had not volunteered any information to me as she was ringing up my purchases, but something inside me told me that she needed a listening ear. When I felt the inner nudge to reach out to the woman, I quietly asked, “Are you alright?”
I truly expected her to either: A) get offended by my question or B) say “I’m fine” and then shirk off what I said.
My mind told me that I was going to be humiliated by asking this woman if she was OK, but instead I obeyed what God put in my heart. God was correct, as always. Not only did the lady answer my question, but she stopped what she was doing to explain.
It became a bit awkward as a line formed behind me and her voice grew louder, but deep inside I knew that this lady was lonely and needed a momentary friend. She needed someone to tell her dispirited story to and I was that person.
Yes, my checkout experience could have been quicker if I had ignored the inner prompting to ask her if is she was alright. And, I could have walked out without embarrassment if I had left without inquiring about her, but that was not what she needed. This lady appeared withdrawn, dejected, and in need of someone to reach out to her, letting her know that she was not overlooked by the world.
My awkward moment paled in comparison to her need to be heard.
I will never again see the agitated people who lined up behind me and sighed loudly because I was wasting their time. Also, I will never run into that female clerk again. Yet that one moment could have been the only time, in her entire day, that someone cared enough to ask about her.
Am I saying all this to prop myself up? No. What I am saying is that there are caregivers, of all types in this world. Many of them are overwhelmed, undervalued, and left without a voice. Resentment builds when you feel unheard.
Undervalued and without a voice:
Is there something that you feel like you have been saying, but the person you are talking to is ignoring? If that goes on for weeks, months, and even years, resentment can turn to bitterness and bitterness can lead to severed relationships.
I know one woman who was never able to have closure in her marriage. She was constantly looking out for the safety of her husband, as he continuously ignored her. One day she told him not to trim the trees until she returned home from the grocery store. Unfortunately, when she returned he had already fallen to his death. At his funeral she said, “I am just so mad at him for not listening”.
Caring for yourself:
Yes, the clerk I met at the mall was a caregiver. She was caring for herself. Sometimes taking care of ourselves is the toughest caregiving job there is. Her speech was slow and her appearance led me to believe that she might be sickly. She was a single woman with bills, lack of transportation and possibly lack of self-esteem.
This woman wanted to be heard by her former boss, who refused to listen. In turn, she severed the relationship by quitting. For every moment of resentment, she was losing 60 seconds of her life. The night I met her, she just wanted to be valued. She needed to know that her thoughts and feelings mattered.
As for my two friends, earlier in the day, their problems were equally as valid and frustrating. They felt alone. One was alone in parenting and another was alone in taking care of a spouse. The first woman I spoke with needed to be heard by her ex, the second one needed the doctors to listen.
All three ladies had no one to talk to, and subsequently no voice. All three women that day needed to be heard. They needed to feel valued and worthy as individuals. Every one of their incidents could be summed up in one word- listen!
Listening stymies resentment:
What happened to the relationships where the women were unheard? The First Lady no longer feels the need to speak with her ex-husband and she is contacting a lawyer. Lady number two is looking for another doctor since the doctor she tried dealing with was not listening. The clerk quit her job and found a new one.
Caregivers can only talk so long, and be ignored for a certain period of time, before they go elsewhere to get their needs met.
If you are the friend of a caregiver:
If you are the friend of someone who is going through difficulties, please give them the gift of listening to them. They have something on their mind that is bothering them. Their unmet need could lead to sickness, depression, or death.
No, you do not need to save everyone or have poor boundaries. If a caregiver is sucking you dry, try pointing them toward a church, a counselor, or a support group. However, if someone (who is not overusing you) is really reaching out to you, please just listen. You could be the only person who hears them that entire week.
Caregiver, what about you?
What about you? In which areas of your life do you feel devalued and underrated? Do you need a boss, a doctor, a nursing facility, a friend, a spouse, a child, a teacher, a co-worker, a neighbor, or someone else to hear you? What is it that you keep saying, but the person you are talking to keeps ignoring?
Friend, you are not alone!
Feel free to use the comment section to voice your cheers, tears, or jeers. You will not be alone in your frustrations and disappointments.