rebelling against low expectations

3 Lessons (About Love) I Learned While Caring For a 107-Year-Old


Once upon a time there was a girl who thought she knew what it meant to love others, to serve others, and to give of herself to others.

But once upon a time she helped care for her great grandmother and realized just how far she was from truly grasping what it means to really love, serve, and give of oneself.

My sister and I just recently spent about 2-3 weeks caring for my 107-year-old great grandma and here are three things that I learned about love during that time.

1. Love is patient.

Caring for a 107-year-old woman who can still do a lot of things on her own, but who is very slow and needs someone with her almost 24/7, taught me a lot about what it means to love through patience.

When caring for someone of that age, one can’t rush anything and I tend to be a rusher. I want things immediately, I like to see how fast I can get things done, and I positively hate waiting.

Rushing was not an option for me while caring for my great grandma and that was hard, yet I am thankful God gave me this opportunity because it helped me to understand a little more of what it means to love others. Being patient is a big part of loving others like Christ and I realize now what a long ways I have to go in loving others with patience.

2. Love is serving.

I thought I knew about serving. I love to serve…. in some things.

Love is not just serving in areas that one knows they are good at or already loves doing.

I love serving in the kitchen at my church or volunteering in the nursery and in other areas, but these are all things that I enjoy doing, so it is really not that hard for me. People tell me that I am servant, but that is because they always see me serving in things I love doing.

Caring for the elderly is not something that I would normally choose to do, but I am thankful for the opportunity to have done it, because it taught me about serving in areas that are not necessarily my love in life.

Although I love spending time with the elderly, I definitely would not choose to be a care giver to the elderly. Yet I have learned that it is important to serve joyfully even in areas that are really not my favorite thing to do.

When I only do the things that I know I enjoy doing, but avoid other acts of service, I am shrinking from fully giving myself up to God and for his service. It’s as if I am telling God that I want to live for and serve him, but only if it is serving in something that I enjoy. What kind of serving is that?

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s great to serve in areas that you are good at, but don’t avoid other ways of serving just because it may not be your special gift in life.

Don’t make God smaller than he is by limiting him in how he can use you for his service.

3. Love does not seek its own.

Not everything about caring for my great grandma was easy or enjoyable.

I had to help give her a shower, help her to the bathroom in the middle of the night, get her breakfast in the morning earlier than I really wanted to be up, walk slowly up or down the stairs with her to make sure she doesn’t fall, and many other small things.

Now none of these things are really that hard to do, but after the first time of getting up in the middle of the night to help her to the bathroom, I discovered just how much I hate getting up in the middle of the night when I really want to be sleeping, yet I realized that was my selfish heart rearing its ugly head and I also realized just how little I know about true love.

When I think about all the moms with babies and how many times they have to get up in the middle of the night to feed or comfort a crying baby than I think that is love.

Love is being willing to give of yourself for the sake of another, and not just doing it because it’s your duty, but doing it with joy and a thankful heart. Love is living for another with a grateful and joyful heart, and putting others needs before oneself.

My great grandma has only given me a glimpse of what it means to live for another, to serve without grumbling, and to love unconditionally like Christ.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Marchant and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Hannah Foster

Hannah Foster is a graduate of Bethlehem College and Seminary with a bachelor’s degree in History of Ideas. She loves a well written book, two favorite authors being Jane Austin and L. M. Montgomery. She also enjoys writing, desiring that her words bring comfort and hope to those who have experienced deep suffering through the loss of a loved one. You can also find her crocheting, creating art, and watching western shows while spending time with her husband.


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  • That was very inspiring. May God be with you give you the time and patience to continue writing for the rebelution.

    • Joey Gross, I am glad this could be inspiring for you. That is very kind and encouraging of you to say. I would love to continue to write for the Rebelution as long as God gives me something to say to you all.

    • Thanks, Taylor! Glad this could be a blessing. How much further we ALL have to go! The rest of our life time we will be learning to love like Christ loved and we will all fail time and again, as well, but there is abundance of grace.

  • Thanks very much Hannah. I think we all fall into the trap of serving only in situations where we enjoy it or feel comfortable. But that sort of “service” is self-focused, and so it tends to miss the point. Giving actively with no hope for reward or recognition is one of the most truly rebelutionary challenges we can face.

  • I’ve also had people tell me I had s servants heart but I think it in a way caused me to get proud of that. When I was in a Wednesday night class about 4 yrs ago I was the only church kid and the rest of the girls were wild. So when the teacher asked us to clean up or something usually I was the only one to do so. And I got praised for it in private and in front of the class. I didn’t realize it till I read this but I was getting a little proud of my little good church girlness. I always was willing to go and do something when another complained ( ok mostly except for my parents which isn’t good) and people see me as that good girl now. Well I don’t have that pride thing as much but I do at times think of
    Myself better than I should. Even though the bible ( Romans 12:3) says against that. That’s what I have learned at least and am

  • What a great story! My great grandmother died this past January (she was 90). I didn’t really get a chance to know her (she had 8 daughters, who all had lots of kids, who had lots of kids, etc. — it’s a huge family!), but my mom tells me some great stories about her. I love hearing about her – she was such a tough, sacrificial woman. Worked on a farm raising her 8 daughters!

    • Emma Berry, that is really neat about your Great-grandmother and that is so cool that the large families have continued down the line. Do you have lots of siblings too? 😉 8 daughters is so cool! I know several family with lots of boys and only 1 or two girls, but there are two families I know with lots of daughters instead and they were always fun to hangout with. 😉 My Great-grandma only had one daughter and no sons.

  • This was a huge encouragement for me, especially since I sometimes care for an older lady w/ dementia. Plus it’s a good reminder to be more patient. Thanks.

  • Hannah,

    You are leaps and years beyond many in your understanding of ministry. I was so humbled by your post.

    This message should be heard by all who are looking for “God’s will” in their lives. If the need is there, we need to fill it, whether it is in our area of giftedness or not. What you did for your great grandma spoke volumes as to sacrificial giving. I know The Lord is going to use you mightily in His endeavors.

    God bless you!


    • Jean, your words have greatly blessed and ministered to me today. Thank you! My greatest desire is that I be used for God’s glory and to bless others, yet I often wonder where he will take me or what my purpose may be on this earth. Thank you for encouraging me today.

  • Hannah! You wrote an article! 🙂
    Okay, aside from the fact that I “know” you… that was great. Keep writing!

  • Wow Hannah! I am left speechless and with tears in my eyes. Uh can someone pass me the tissues? haha. Anyway it made me cry a little because your great grandma and my grandma had a lot in common. My grandma taught me a lot about service and a willing heart to the Lord. I remember doing things like showering her, urging her to eat just a little more, or helping her down the stairs. I am reminded of her as I read this. She passed away a year ago, and things aren’t the same without my best friend, ya know? So thanks for this reminder of my Ama and her servant heart. It encourages me to do hard things:)

  • I learned a lot through this experience too, Hannah. Thank you for the encouragement to love in hard times.
    Eliza Ann

    • Thank you for being an awesome supporting sister who is willing to work along side me and learn with me, @disqus_tfxAJhZCn4:disqus . 😉
      Also, you should get a picture for your profile. 😉

  • Beautiful! This is the love Jesus wants us to show to others. I feel like God wanted me to read this before I go and serve him through 5 Day Clubs. Thank you!

  • “Don’t make God smaller than He is.” My pastor always likes to ask, “how big is your God?” Great reminder that He is way bigger than we typically imagine Him.

  • WOW!!

    ” I have learned that it is important to serve joyfully even in areas that are really not my favorite thing to do.” It’s amazing what God uses to teach us things and help mold us into what we need to be. He uses even the little things . Things we don’t like to do, etc.

    “Don’t make God smaller than he is by limiting him in how he can use you for his service.” This is something I struggle with. Truly trusting that God can and will use me in many different ways if I let Him, even it doesn’t look like it. Even if a certain things seems unimportant and insignificant. You know?

    Thanks so much for sharing Hannah!! I REALLY, REALLY, needed to hear this!! I need to rehearse the things that jumped out to me. Remind myself that even the seemingly little things are important, and God can use them for His glory!!

  • Thank you for sharing this with your readers! I know that many of us can relate and empathize with what you’re going through. You can learn a lot in just 2-3 weeks when you’re caregiving but sometimes it can last much longer than that and the lesson gets harder. I had no idea of all of the personal, financial, and health risks involved when taking on the costs and caring for my mom. I am always researching online ways to make this easier for myself, my mother, and my family. I came across a great book I want to recommend by author Pamela Wilson called, “The Caregiving Trap” ( This book offers support and insight for both the caregiver and the care recipient. All of the advice and suggestions come from the author’s personal experience. The book gave me hope and I think it could help a lot of people going through this difficult situation. It is a must read for all the caregivers out there who are looking for some help and guidance

  • Yes! I love this! This summer our youth group ran a kids camp for inner city kids and it has to be one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. I’ve learned it’s possible to love so hard that it hurts to let go, seeing a dose of what God’s love is for us is SO powerful. Love is not one big thing, its a million little things. God Bless you 🙂

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →