on noticing the care-givers

I just wanted him to notice me. It had been an hour since he returned home from his meeting at the church. I spent most of that hour in bed, nursing a pulled muscle in my back. Nursing a heart-hurt as well. Seems as if there have been a few of these kinds of aches lately. Internal, soul-pains with no immediate cure but for the passage of time and the tenderness of God. And so I waited for him to make that trek down the hall to our back bedroom … to notice me. To ask a few questions. To join me in my misery.

Ever tried that one before? Using your pitiful estate to procure collective pity? I can’t be the only one out there wielding this emotional manipulation. We all (especially us women) have an arsenal full of management techniques we’re willing to implement in order to secure the attention of others. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t working. My husband is an “S” on the Myer-Briggs Personality Test, meaning that he gains information through his senses. If he can’t taste it, touch it, feel it, hear it, or see it, it doesn’t exist in his cognitive awareness. So, while I’m back in the bedroom nursing my wounds, he’s not thinking about checking up on me; he’s simply noticing the partially shut door, indicating to him that I’m resting and wanting to be left alone.

What I’m wanting is for him to intuitively know my need without me having to tell him—that’s part of my being an “N” on the Myer’s Brigg, an opposite of being an “S.” But really, this isn’t a post about personality types. Mostly, it’s just about my needing to be noticed, and when he didn’t acquiesce to my silently kept expectations, I added a few frustrations to the wounds I was already self-medicating with self-pity.

Why isn’t he coming back here? What’s more important than my pain? He’s usually so attentive to my needs? Why isn’t he taking the time to notice me?

An hour into my self-soothing, I received my answer. Not through him, but rather through the faint sound of silverware clinking together in the kitchen sink.

He can’t notice you, Elaine. He’s too busy noticing the messy kitchen—those after-dinner dishes that never got washed. He is taking care of you, just through different means. By the way, who’s noticing him? When was the last time someone paused long enough to stop his/her personal self-centeredness to ask Billy, “How are you? How are you handling your pain … your wife’s pain?”

Noticing him. The guilt from not having made many meals in that kitchen for nearly a year is bad enough, but to intuitively feel the pain regarding his pain on this one (again the “N” at work in me) added to my heart ache.

I can’t tell you the last time that someone ministered to my husband along these lines. I don’t know if it’s a guy thing or a preacher thing (maybe even a human nature thing), but it’s not right. As the primary bread-winner and care-giver to a sick wife, my husband carries a heavy load. I couldn’t ask for a better help-mate as we have navigated and continue to navigate these uncertain times. But few have been those who have noticed him … have taken the time to ask the hard questions, wait for the answers, and then act upon the pain that is obviously masked by his need to be strong for all of us. Who’s noticing him?


Why is it that few people take the time to notice the care-givers of sick patients? The friends, spouses, children, extended family members who are caring for the infirmed? Is there a threshold for concern … as if there’s only enough room in our hearts to offer compassion, send comfort to the sick? Is taking on the care-giver simply too much burden added to an already heavy-laden list of those needing care? When did we stop noticing the corporate nature of care-giving? If it “takes a village” to raise a child, then why would it be any different with those who are suffering? Suffering need, needs a village of concerned inhabitants to tend to the sick, care-givers included. They should not be overlooked. Instead, they should be noticed. Be consulted. Be loved, even as the patient is loved.

As the wife of a husband who has valiantly endeavored to “love me as Christ loves the church,” I am sometimes saddened by the response of the “church at large” to love on my man. He needs to be noticed. And I can honestly tell you that he isn’t wielding any weapons in his emotional arsenal to procure attention. He’s just not the type. He’s a humble man with a beautiful heart willing to bend low to wash the feet of a stranger, despite his own feet being sorely in need of a thorough cleansing of communal love.

I don’t tell you this to elicit a response in our direction. I tell you this in hopes that you might consider a care-giver who is within arm’s reach of your ministry today. Someone who needs noticing, who needs a few minutes of your time and your tending. Someone who would benefit from a phone call, a note, a lunch date all offered in the name of God’s love because you understand that loving “the most excellent way” (see 1 Corinthians 13) means putting others’ needs above your own. It’s such a simple thing … noticing the pain of others. It doesn’t take much to abate the human need to be noticed. It simply requires your willingness to re-direct your attention away from self and to channeling that attention in the direction of others.

Perhaps, today, you could give your attention to the care-giver of someone who is sick; in doing so, you give to the patient as well. Don’t wait to be asked. Just do. Do it today; do it because our God has done the same for us.

He noticed us. He notices us still. We must give our hearts–our energies and our efforts–to the same. As always…

Peace for the journey,
PS: The winner of Michael O’Brien’s CD is #13, Stephanie! I’ll have this in the mail to you be week’s end.

30 Responses to on noticing the care-givers

  1. Love that Billy. You KNOW this is a passion of mine – for selfish reasons, of course. But still I'm sharing it with folks. Thank you, dear Elaine!

  2. I have prayed for Billy a number of times over the past months… He is part of your healing, a great part.

    Praise God. May God continue to build strength inside of him as he ministers God's healing love to you.


  3. Such a convicting post…I think we all get caught up in our own needs and often fail to see the needs of those around us.
    btw…I love those personality tests…it's amazing how accurate they are and how helpful they can be in understanding our differences.

  4. Oh Elaine,
    This is SO true!
    As a care-giver for 8 years of an ill spouse, it was seldom that I was 'recognized' for my faithful service to his needs. Yet, I would do it again in a moment if only given the chance.
    Your Billy is a HERO in every sense of the word!
    Thank you for writing this truth so beautifully:)
    Blessings for a strong and healthy day!!

  5. Praise GOD for your ability to put on paper what the church needs to hear!
    After caring for my mother the last four years of her life, I have been very intuned to the needs of caregivers. It is always such a blessing to show gratitude and concern for those who love so sacrificially.

  6. Oh Elaine I found this post quite thought provoking. How many times I have thought those very same thoughts about my husband as he soo tirelessly pampers and cares for me and for anyone really who comes across his path. He DOES need more love lavished on him then he ever comes even close to getting. My mom needs soo much more attention and care now and how much easier it would be for all involved if she appreciated more what she gets. Your husbands rewards in heaven will be soo large. What a wonderful man he sounds like and how glad I am that you have him. HUGS

  7. Oh, girl, how this sounds like my own heart whispers.

    My mother is primary care-giver to my aunt who has cancer. Hospice was called in last week… more for added support and help then 'she's going right now' kinda things. I keep having to explain to people that it's hard on my mom because not only is she doing alot for my aunt, but she is losing her sister… a best friend of hers. People don't see it that way. They see her bossy side instead of her hurting side. They see her controlling things instead of remembering that she's the oldest of the siblings and she's always been the one they go to.

    I see it all and I'm trying to help. I hate that my mom is stressed, but I've got to be careful that her stress doesn't become my own. I'm good at doing that.

    Thank you for this post. May many more realize the care-giver needs care of there own.

  8. Elaine, this hit me quite deeply… Thank you.

    Shannon and I have been caregivers for quite a few over the years, and while those experiences have tempered and strengthened us, it can feel like a very lonely place upon occasion. One of my focuses of outreach is to the families of seriously ill children, so your post very much struck home.

    I'm so thankful that you had Pastor Billy in your corner during this season. He very much sounds like someone I'd like to meet. 🙂

    Have a Blessed Day Elaine!

  9. Beautiful Elaine. How it resonates in my heart. In the last email update you should have received from me I did thank those who have been ministering to Gord and Chris…caring about their needs…and I'm so thankful. They are serving me endlessly and tirelessly…giving sacrificially in so many ways. I pray that Lord will give me His eyes to continue to notice all the ways they are giving of themselves to meet my needs right now.

    So thankful that God always notices,

  10. OUCH!!

    So true!!

    I need to do a better job at this. I always pray for the family of anyone suffering because I remember how it affected ALL of us when my Daddy was battling cancer.

  11. Thank you Elaine for this gentle but very pointed reminder to care for the caregivers.

    May we all have eyes to see beyond the obvious and hearts to love like Christ.

    Thank you for this…

  12. Elaine, I was in a caregiver role for years (Don's mom) even though she didn't live with us. Her hospitalizations were so frequent and her doc appts so many that it kept me hopping — and many times feeling overwhelmed with it all. I pray that someone will come alongside Billy when he needs it. Hugs to you both!

  13. I just got off the phone with my Grams who is nursing my Grumps (yes, that's the family name for Grandpa) after open heart surgery and a quadruple bypass. Her voice was weak and I could tell she was exhausted. This is a timely post for me. I will consider small ways to "notice" her all these states away.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. It's just like you to let God turn your head in the middle of a pity-party. That Preacher Billy has got to be one special man to snag such a special lady. It's true we often forget those who care for the ill. There are many different kinds of pain and sometimes we are blind to ones that don't carry an open wound. Praying for your sweet man tonight and for all the caregivers out there. Love to you, Faith Elaine.

  15. First of all, you are truly one blessed woman! Not only does your hubby have another "family" to care for, he has his own family….and being a caregiver is not an easy task! And it does go unnoticed too! When caring for my mother, on occasion I would get a card addressed to me from some of mother's church family….thanking "me" for taking care of mother and letting me know they were praying for me….
    That was always an encouragement because many times I felt I carried the burden all alone. And it was a difficult task (but I have not regrets!).
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us…may we be more sensitive to the caregivers' needs as they take care of others.


  16. I've been a silent sulker on more occasions than I care to admit through our 28 years of marriage. The Lord has taught me how selfish and unfair it is. I have no idea why we do it, but glad to know I'm not the only one. It's good to share these things and grow together.

    Great blog and wonderful point to ponder.
    Blessings to you and your sweet man.

  17. As the wife of a hubby minister too, I could really relate to the "loving the minister" part. Sometimes he comes home so hurt. Thank you for reminding me to love on him more too.

    Your precious husband has been through a lot this year. What a blessing God has given you in him. Praying today that he will have a beautiful week, filled with rich blessings in return.

    He washes dishes? He is a keeper!!! 🙂

  18. Your post caused me to stop and think-about my husband and myself who are also opposites on the sensitivity scale, but we've made it 40 years thanks to god's grace.
    And to think about my mother who was my dad's caregiver until he she passed away a year ago, totally worn out from the job. But thye had been married 66 years and she wouldn't have wanted to anything else. Life is hard, but God's grace is good!!!

  19. I love your wise words, Elaine, and yes, I've used the pity me plan of engagement at times. Thankfully I'm growing in that area. As far as the real content of your message, about care givers, my dad is caring for my mom who suffers from Alzhiemers. Just this week I let him know that I see the stress it's causing him. I think it would do him good if I thanked him for the care he's giving her. Thank you for the prompt! *hugs*

  20. oh for sure, there is an S and an N in my house too. This was a probing thoughtful post, and caught my heart. There are so many faithful, who go without notice, and each day is a day of service for them. I am pushing this post to the front of my heart.


  21. Thank you for the reminder. I didn't even finish reading the entire post before I hopped over and sent an e-mail to my dear friend who is daily caring for her mother.

    Thank you for using your raw emotions to encourage me to reach out to love those who are forgotten.


  22. wifeforthejourney:

    I am again humbled by your generous offering, your kindness, your gift of encouragement.

    You are, of course right. Outside recognition of life in most suffering households is often in short supply. Still, I find God's grace makes its way to my heart in a lot of different ways – mostly through you. Few men or women will ever want more than to know they have the approval of their spouse – and I am no different.

    Thank you for your good word; it is a reminder to us all that we have to be on our guard against the temptation to forget that there are other people in the world around us that hurt just like we do.

    Thanks to each of you out there in blog-land that have prayed, have called, have written and have made the most of your opportunities to lift up and care for Elaine. If you are helping her, you are helping me, our children, our church and the rest of our extended family and friends. How could we ask for more that what God has offered us in and through each of you?



  23. Amen sweet sister, well said from such a beautiful heart. I have never stopped praying for you, nor will I. I have missed you. Take care, love you so much.

  24. Your Billy is one in a million…a mighty man of God! We pray for him (and the rest of your family) whenever we pray for you, sweet friend.

    Missing you both lots…were your ears burning this evening? We were talking about how we are looking forward to getting together again with you two.

    Love you…

  25. Humility often asks for very little. So much of our culture promotes just taking, that I agree the care-givers go unnoticed. Heart felt reading this late hour. Praying Peace to your soul on those deeper matters of your heart.

  26. Elaine
    We are now going into ourn4 th round of chemo with my 29 yr old daughter with most of the caregiving being me. Thank you for this reminder blog. I know my husband has certainly missed me while I have been away from home nearly 5 months. I will keep your husband in our prayers.
    Blessings to you all.

  27. My heart immediately goes out to my brother-in-law, who is now the legs and feet for my sister-in-law. Her bone cancer has hindered her ability to walk. I can see his exhaustion, and am always wishing we lived closer. I try to help with dishes or anything else, when we visit, just to give him a break, because I know he has to do most of it. He never complains, and he would never ask for help. He will just do, and it is in the just doing, that his love speaks louder than words.

  28. Elaine,

    I echo Crown of Beauty and Jess. Both speak my heart perfectly.

    There is something that came to mind to share with you that totally agrees with what you are saying here but it's a different experience and perhaps not the right forum so I'll just say…I understand. I'm praying for Billy and for you.

    God bless you and your family.

  29. Wow! I just got the CD! Thank you! You have no idea… I always ask the LORD to bring me new music – and He always does by way of other people! I knew I entered the contest the day I stopped by but had no idea that I won! Thank you soooo much!

    Love you and miss all of my blogging friends!


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