photo by jo-h on Flickr

Sharon is part of the “sandwich generation” – those who are taking care of aging parents while raising children of their own. With kids staying home, or returning home through their 20’s, this generation is only getting bigger.

A few years ago, Sharon was probably one of your go-to people for events or kids’ Sunday school. Today, she might seem frustrated, guilty or distant. Sharon is wearing out. Here is her story:

Last week, Sharon hit a wall. Not literally, although people under this kind of stress have been proven to have more accidents.

No, last week Sharon just reached a spot where she couldn’t go any further. Job stress is normal, and Sharon is a healthcare specialist, in an industry that can be very stressful. She also has a husband, kids and parents.

Sharon’s parents are getting older. Every week it seems like they need a little more of her energy. On top of that, her teens have her running 24/7. Even when she isn’t physically transporting them, she finds that a part of her brain goes on the trip, looking for danger and worrying over potential problems. When she prays, she wonders if she has covered all the bases, or if her kids will invent some new way to get in trouble that she hasn’t imagined yet.

Last week, Sharon’s husband came down with the flu in the middle of the night. After two hours of tending to him, Sharon crawled back in bed at 4am, only to have her alarm go off at 6am. By 8am, all the kids were out the door to school. After thoroughly scouring the bathroom, at about 10 o’clock, Sharon got a call that her mom had fallen.

A quick run to her parents’ house showed that her mom wasn’t seriously injured…this time, but the bruises will be there for a while. Sharon’s ride home was shadowed by conflicting thoughts on what her next step in adult care might be. Sharon tried to pray, but with exhaustion fogging her brain, it seemed like she was mouthing the words, or maybe God isn’t responding?

Her daughter, Janie, went someplace after school and forgot to tell anyone. Hours later, when Sharon was just about to call the police, she came prancing into the house, unaware of the doom scenarios that had been flashing through Sharon’s mind while she cleaned the bathroom (again) and made soup for her husband. Six hours later, Sharon heard a noise, and pulled herself out of bed to find Janie, frantically trying to put together a homework assignment. “I forgot, Mom!”

“Is this just normal teen angst, or is Janie starting to unravel?” Sharon’s doom scenarios started to flash through her head again as she returned to a fitful sleep.

How do you serve God under extreme stress? Sharon needs to know. She is fully aware that Martin Luther said that he prayed four hours before ever attempting a day. She can’t measure up. Carting the kids starts at 6:30am, parents’ errands increasingly take the spare hours of her afternoons, and hubby and kids need her attention at night. Once in a blue moon, she finds she has a couple hours to herself, and frankly she wants to sleep.

Sharon loves those books of devotionals – 3-5 paragraphs that she can read in the car. They are usually uplifting and remind her that God hasn’t forgotten her. Most weeks, church is just another obligation, but those moments when God breaks through make it all worth while.

Can you help Sharon? The pressures are so intense that she might just lose her identity. She wants to know that God really does see her predicament and is actually listening. Would you give her a few moments at the altar this week, allowing her to really cast all her care on Him because He cares for her? Will you help her connect with others in a similar place in life so she can trade resources and information while getting some much-needed friendship?

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Sheldon is Coming to Your Church This Sunday

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Jeni is Coming to Your Church This Sunday

Rachel is Coming to Your Church This Sunday

Don is Coming to Your Church This Sunday

She’s Coming to Your Church This Sunday

The people in this “Coming to Your Church This Sunday” series aren’t real. They are a compilation of people I have known, read about, heard of and heard from throughout the years. If you see yourself in them, I wasn’t writing about you – you just have a lot in common with the rest of the human race.