In our Faith in Caregiving series, we are fortunate to have Veronica Badowski, a compassionate caregiver and the author of Treading Water with God, Lessons in Love While Care Giving. Today, she shares powerful insights on the impact of compassionate words in the caregiving journey.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Think about a time when your spirit was lifted by compassionate words.
As I cared for my mother, I didn’t always succeed in living Paul’s challenge found in the above verse, but I tried. My goal was to wrap my words in love. Since my mom had severe dementia, she may not have known I was her daughter, but she felt the kindness in my voice. My heart smiled when she would occasionally say to me, you are so nice. Her words sent a message of encouragement to me as well; I knew I was following God’s call for that season of my life.
The tone of our voices often speaks louder than our words. Like a bouquet of summer flowers, positive words light-up a room. Let’s have a great day! This is the day the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24}. You’re special to me. Let’s sit outside and soak up some sun! I like how you look in that dress. Your smile makes me smile. God loves you, and I do too.
These are examples of uplifting, cheerful words.
Let each of us discover phrases of encouragement and love to benefit our loved one and sustain our spirits.
Yet, there are times when cheerful words are not helpful and can be even be hurtful. In his book “Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart”, Kenneth C. Haugk, PhD, warns us about inappropriate cheerfulness that comes from “pink thinking.”
He writes, “pink thinking denies the reality of an individual’s suffering and glosses over the hurting person’s pain.” If the person we are caring for is experiencing pain, fear, sadness, or anger, our uplifting words can sound empty and critical. During these times, we need to acknowledge their pain by saying, I can see you’re miserable, then sit close by, hold their hand, and listen to their complaints without judgement or advice.
Write about a time your cheerful words or compassionate silence brought a smile to your loved one’s face? How did it make you feel?
Wise Teacher, open my heart and mind to your guidance. Show me when to speak and when to be silent. Give me patience and compassion in listening and just the right words when you nudge me to speak. Bless us with your Holy Spirit and bind us together in love, resting in peace, the peace that only you can give. I pray in your precious name. Amen.
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