After starting a new life in Seattle, I saw God provide for me in so many ways, but I never got to see all of what my life would have been had I stayed. In the beginnings of the Great Recession of 2008, I lost my job and my elderly father became sick, so I went to Florida to care for him.

Dad was almost 80 years old and suddenly showed symptoms of serious dementia. He was not thinking clearly at all, and everyone suspected Alzheimer’s. My mother had passed away ten years prior, but Dad had a new girlfriend his age who made sure he had temporary home care until I arrived.

When I got there, Dad was grateful to see me, and I knew I was doing the right thing! Immediately, I started taking him to doctors to figure out what was happening to him. The doctors kept saying, “This doesn’t fit the usual pattern of Alzheimer’s.”

The doctors recognized problems with my dad’s medication, so they changed it around quite a bit. Within a few days of the changes, he snapped out of it!

Dad, my family, and I thanked God! He was thinking clearly again and had no problems taking care of himself.

Of course, this led to a big family discussion. My father wanted me to handle all his bills and be ready to manage things if he got sick again.

I agreed to assist, and then he said, “Move on with your life! Don’t let me hold you back!”

Dad did not want me to be his full-time caregiver if he got sick again, so he signed a long-term care agreement with a retirement community.

My dad believed he needed to leave me free to live my own life. I had certainly been willing to be his full-time caregiver, but now that I knew his wishes, apparently God had other plans for me.

My next steps were to decide where to live and apply for jobs again. As I checked online, I realized that because of the recession there was now nothing in my line of work in Seattle or in Florida near my father.

There were almost no opportunities even back where I’d once lived for over twenty years.

One exciting opportunity remained: Southern California! My mind immediately went back to my friends in San Diego who had been so generous to feed me and give me a place to stay on my last cross-country trip.

Several other friends from my previous church had also moved there.

Hmm . . . I think I knew where I would be wandering next.

Have you ever thought you were locked into a difficult life only to find yourself free? Do you currently care for aging parents or worry about doing so one day?

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  • Marshall, you’re one of the most decent guys on this blog. Seattle is a great place to live. Did you resent having to leave, or get discouraged?
    With your question, I’ve been in hard times where the circumstances didn’t change but God changed me, and I was free in the thing I was facing. But I’ve also come thru things and didn’t face it well or change and wasn’t any freer. Whether things are hard or easy, it’s not circumstances that determine if we’re free.

    • Bluzhawk,
      Thanks for the compliment! About Seattle, I didn’t resent having to leave and I wouldn’t say I was discouraged. I looked on it as God sovereignly closing a door and directing me elsewhere. I enjoyed my time there and learned from it that God will always provide for His children!
      When I used the word “free” here I just meant it in the specific sense that I was free from the responsibility to physically care directly for my father’s needs. I agree with you that I can be free in the spiritual sense even though I am still locked in to a difficult situation.
      What makes me free is responding rightly. I need to be grateful to God in all circumstances and where possible do my best to improve the circumstances.

      • “What makes me free is responding rightly. I need to be grateful to God…” That right there is awesome Marshall. It’s not just doing the right thing but being genuinely grateful to God that you can. That’s being free.

  • You’re a good man, Marshall. So much respect for you traversing the continent to care for your dad, even though he’d ultimately free you from that responsibility. I want to better look to the needs of others as you do.

    • Thanks Tom! I have always loved my father and I am grateful for the sacrificial love and commitment he has shown me and others over the years. One of my favorite quotes from him is “Having a child is not an 18 year commitment, it is a LIFETIME commitment.”
      How could I not show sacrificial love in his time of need? Actually, his decision to set me free in this case was a type of sacrifical love!

    • I like your last statement Tom. Amen to that.
      Once upon a time there was a family in my home church…a husband, wife and two daughters. They were pillars in the church. By and by, the husband died, and on the day of the funeral service, the congregation gathered to pay their respects. As his wife and daughters were coming down the aisle, one of her daughters stumbled and fell and died on the spot.
      I can’t begin to imagine that poor lady’s grief. I wasn’t there as I was only a boy, but my mother was. Her other daughter developed MS and was confined to a wheelchair. That daughter’;s husband left her also.
      Someone once asked this lady how she had survived these tragedies. She replied simply, “I got busy helping others.” And she did. She was active, among many things, in the local hospital. When she herself died, the hospital dedicated a part of their space with a plaque in her honor. Whenever I would go to the hospital, I would see that plaque, and I could hear her say, “I got busy helping others.”.
      Sometimes I think there are only two types of people in this world: takers and givers. She represented, to me at least, the latter…may her tribe increase! Sometime I wonder if we most like Christ when we give ourselves in loving service to those in our life. We can’t begin to do for everyone, but God seems to place people in our lives for us to bless. Just my simple thoughts on a cold, rainy Monday!

  • As one who is about to enter being 65, I am grateful for hearts like Marshall’s, for people with caregiver hearts. Even now, my wife comments about some slip-ups here and there. As an English language tutor for those who are studying English as another language, sometimes the concepts I want to explain take a little longer in coming; the terms are there, but need some preamble before they actually incarnate themselves as study strategies. When there is a lull in the day, I also look back on my 64 years, and feel great pangs of regret for horrific moments of hypocrisy. In that very instant, I remember a dear friend of mine who kept on putting his hand on my shoulder, looking deeply into my eyes and saying, “Remember: “grace”…it is all grace…all grace. Nothing you earned, nothing you contrived, nothing you created nor developed…it is a gift. Receive it, respect it, use it well, but above all things remember: “It is all grace.” Thus, as I read Marshall’s stories and Thomas’ and the stories of other skilled and jaw-droppingly, outrageously courageous men who leave their insights here, I keep thinking, “Look at what grace has done! Just look!” Marshall, I hope you will experience great, great joy in your life for the servant-heart you demonstrated with your father. May we all, in our own distinctive ways bring grace, grace, grace into a graceless world. Oh, how we all need it! My love to you all…and may you all have a truly splendid new year. I cannot wait to see what adventures emerge in 2019!

    • Paul,
      Thanks! I know that anything good in me is from God’s grace. God has changed my heart and hopefully others see some of the character of Jesus Christ in me when they see me wanting to serve my father.
      I hope you have a great year too!

  • I can’t say I’ve been locked into a difficult life only to find myself free. What I can say I’ve been locked into a difficult life feeling stuck and I blame myself for making such a life changing decision. After graduating college, I managed to get a relatively easy job at one of my local banks. However, after three plus years, I was faced with a layoff. Fortunately I managed to find another job opening outside the bank, but a month after 9/11 that job was gone too. Thank God for unemployment!! It kept me afloat while I went back to school to pursue an I.T. degree. I bought into the notion that since information technology cost me my bank job, I figured it would be prudent to learn all I could on the subject and assist others who may not be very tech savvy. It is hard to say if this is the direction God wanted me to go. In retrospect, I feel I was thinking I knew better than God and I was certain my expectations would simply come to fruition. Haven’t we all heard a story or two like that before. Now I feel like Jonah trapped in this vocation like my own proverbial whale. Is this God’s will that I’m stuck and struggling like this until I reach some distant shores of Nineveh or is this God’s unyielding discipline upon for not consulting him first and foremost in deciding on this occupation? I wish I knew. Am I grateful for what I know? Am I thankful for being able to help others when and where I can? Very much so. I’m just tired and burnt out over this line of work. I want to do something different. Something that inspires me with joy. Something that excites me at the start of a workday. Sadly I don’t know exactly what that is. I’m like a Swiss Army knife and, given enough, I’m could be quite versatile in all kinds of capacities. I just feel pigeonholed to one thing and no one wants me to do anything else, but what I do now.

    • Mac,
      Thanks for sharing where you feel trapped now. I would say you should start doing now what you should have done back when you were deciding to go into IT. Call out to God for help!
      Whenever I am in a situation that is difficult but hard to escape, I let the pain motivate me to pursue God and ask Him for help. Often then He gives me a sense of peace and helps me think of a way to take action.
      God takes care of His children! You can trust Him!

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