The Reluctant Caregiver, by Bobbi Junior (Word Alive Press, 2014)
I knew this was a book I’d value, from the dedication:
Dedicated to my brother, husband and children, who never said “You should…”
And to Jesus, who said, “Let me.”
On one level, this is a memoir of one woman’s struggle to demonstrate the love of Christ to her mother, Nancy, who has dementia. Without a power of attorney in place, Bobbi Junior and her brother, Lawrence, can’t take the conventional advice to “put her in a home.” As a Christian, Bobbi feels called to treat her mother with love and dignity, even though they had a difficult relationship since Bobbi’s childhood.
On another level, it’s a story for every Christian walking in a hard place.
The Reluctant Caregiver is transparent about Bobbi’s ongoing battles with her attitudes, fears, and the desire to take charge. Most of the time, she rises to the challenge in a way that will have many readers shaking their heads in admiration (and a few readers putting the book down, angry that she doesn’t retaliate or walk away).
When she fails, or when she’s floundering, her journal entries give us clues to how we might handle similar experiences. (What? You haven’t failed or floundered lately?)
The book reads like a journal-style novel, and I found myself reading every chance I could. It offers insight not only into the difficult role of a caregiver but also into the pain of an intelligent woman who knows she can’t think straight anymore – and who now berates herself as “stupid.”
The chief take-away is that we can’t manage life’s challenges in our own strength, but that Jesus is ready to take the lead if we’ll only let Him. Because we’re human, this is a day-to-day or minute-by-minute process. We get better at it, but only in the sense that practice helps us learn to turn to Him more readily.
The Reluctant Caregiver is a valuable resource for Christians who are or who will become caregivers, and for those who find it easier to take control than to surrender it to God. I’m in a wide-open space in my life right now, but even in my small stresses I found Bobbi’s prayers and journal entries showed me a better way. I’m challenged to walk closer with Jesus and to ask Him to show me His way instead of insisting my own. Even in the little things, it’s hard to do.
Bobbi Junior is a Canadian author and speaker who shares what she’s learning about life and caregiving at her website: bobbijunior.com.
[Review copy from the public library.]