What Mother Teresa and Caregiving Taught Me about My Self-Talk


Not too long ago, my life looked a bit like a circus sideshow. At least it felt like it.

I was recovering from a brain lesion that had temporarily stripped me of my ability to walk and see and left me with mysterious symptoms that resembled multiple sclerosis. My docs had told me to take it easy and get plenty of rest. I’m sure I wrote that down somewhere on scrap of paper. Or maybe not.

Three months later, my husband I moved. A month later, we moved his father with Parkinson’s disease and mental illness into our home. At the time, we were also caring for my mom with Alzheimer’s three states away. And just weeks later, our son, who’d suffered a closed-head injury 18 months before and had spun off into a period of life my husband and I referred to as “stupid boy tricks,” also moved back into our house. (This boy-now-a-man is now a godly husband and father.) At the same time, our daughter came home from serving overseas in one of the world’s most devastating natural disasters with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Life in our sandwich generation house was–shall I say…unconventional and unpredictable. I often found myself arriving at work hours late spewing scenes of melodrama upon anyone within two feet of me.

But what I discovered as I learned about the power of self-talk and began to listen to my stories was that I always cast myself as the hero. In the chaos of life, I was the Mother Teresa who held things together.

“Life at our house is out of control. Things are crazy. But keep your eyes on ME–I’m the plate-spinner and saint who holds it all together.”

No matter how much I talked about God, I’d made caregiving all about me.

Over the following years, I slowly learned to talk less and listen more. To the Holy Spirit. To my husband–even when I wanted to force my opinion on him. To my children–even in their frustration and, yes, their anger. To Norman–even in his silences. To my mother–even in her vague ramblings.

And most of all, to listen to myself. To the self-talk that exposed my true motives and showed me where God wanted to change me from the inside out.

Praise God, he loves us as we are but so much that he does not leave us there.

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