Faithfully yours - no greater love then this


Neil Strohschein 

The Neepawa Banner

Those I revere as heroes probably wouldn’t consider what they do to be all that heroic. But the services they render to those they love are as highly valued and deeply appreciated as the most heroic acts of bravery in human history.

These unlikely heroes are primary caregivers. They look after a child, sibling, spouse, parent, aunt, uncle or friend (sometimes more than one) who is physically, mentally or developmentally challenged. They are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They hardly ever get time off. They balance caregiving with other activities. Long days are common.
But don’t you dare suggest that they are doing too much. They will let you know that theirs is a labor of love; and that they have no intention of changing what they are doing. They know that their lives aren’t easy; but they embrace these difficulties as the hard side of love.
These primary caregivers are supported by a dedicated team of professionals who do for them what they cannot do for themselves. They come in many forms—home care nurses, health care aides, housekeepers, Meals on Wheels, etc.—all of whom make regular visits to the homes shared by caregivers and those for whom they care. They show the same love and care for their clients as they show to their families and friends. It’s hard work; but they embrace it gladly.
During his time on earth, Jesus encouraged his disciples to follow his example of love. “Love one another,” he said, “as I have loved you.” Then, he added these words: “There is no greater love than this—to lay down one’s life for a friend.”
These words can be applied in two ways. We celebrate the first every November 11, when we gather as grateful communities to honor those who answered the call of sovereign and country, went to war and fought valiantly. Some were killed in action. Others suffered serious injury. The rest continued fighting until the war ended and they could return home. They put their lives on the line every day, fighting (and if necessary, dying) to save the lives of those who fought beside them. No sacrifice (not even life itself) was considered too great to save the life of a friend.
That same degree of devotion and dedication is shown by the people identified in the opening words of this column. Primary caregivers and those who assist them give time, talent and energy to provide the highest possible quality of life for those for whom they care. Their quest will only end when the one for whom they care dies or when the caregiver needs care him or herself.
Every year, our governments craft medals and decorative ribbons and give them to members of the armed forces who have shown great courage while carrying out their duties. Others are given to members of the public who stood in harm’s way to save the life of a person in danger.
There is no medal for primary caregivers—at least none of which I am aware. But one day, every one of these dedicated people will stand before God and will receive a far greater reward. In the presence of family, friends and the saints of all ages, they will hear God’s voice speaking these words: “Well done good and faithful servant. There is no greater love than that which you have shown in giving of yourself for the betterment of others; for whatever you did for one of the least of these my children, you did for me.”