As my children were growing up, I learned that my prayers protected their hearts from hurtful words and actions launched toward them by others. Time and again I've felt amazed that my children could take painful situations in stride. It was as though arrows of hurt bounced off a strong shield of armor around them.
My own heart was a different story, however. I became aware of the need not so much to guard my heart--intercession precludes closing down spiritually--but rather, I learned to quickly take every heart hurt to the Lord. Otherwise, as I labored in prayer and cried out to the Lord on my children's behalf, I was crippled by the pain of those hurtful situations myself.
A similar phenomenon is occurring with my mother. Mom doesn't get many phone calls and has averaged no more than two or three visitors a year since she has lived with us. My children make it a point to stop by her room for five or ten minutes when they can, but this doesn't occur often. And yet, Mom is amazingly content. Although she loves visits and phone calls, she never complains when they are lacking, and will make excuse for those who fail to call or write to her. My heart is the one that withers with pangs of rejection!
I call it "projected rejection." I identify with my Mom and I think about how I would feel if I were in her place.
As a caregiver it is unexpectedly difficult to maintain a separate identity from the person who receives care--especially if that person is a loved one. Caring for Mom and working to understand her thinking patterns has led me to the point that I can very nearly see from her perspective, and sometimes the lines between my own experience and hers become blurred. My mom and I have always been so much alike. Now, that fact terrifies me. I fear becoming old and being forgotten. I suffer in advance the emotional pain of being rejected and feeling unloved--projected rejection indeed! It hasn't happened yet but I'm terrified that it might!
The Lord has not equipped me to handle a life with little interaction with friends because I am not the one who needs that particular armor--I am not my mother! I'm praying today to be able to separate my identity and where I am in my life's journey from that of my mother's, even as I care for her, anticipate her needs, and attempt to understand how she thinks.
It isn't easy! Lord protect me from projected rejection!!!