I am not naturally patient. I am not particularly kind or empathetic. Apart from the Lord, I'm the caregiver you would hope not to have assigned to your case should you become elderly and infirm.
Before you lavish sympathy and prayers on my mother's head (well, the prayers aren't a bad idea, feel free to go ahead with those), I will hasten to let you know that I do not depend upon any natural propensity toward virtue in the time I spend with my mother. I very rarely enter her apartment without first uttering a prayer for God's help. He answers those prayers.
This gift of grace that covers my lack of qualifications reminds me of a story from my past. When my family moved to the small town where I attended the last two years of high school, I felt a strong desire to be accepted as a hometown girl. I envied the young people who had been born and raised in our little community, and while many of them could not wait to leave, I wanted nothing more than to put down roots and achieve that sense of belonging that they took for granted. I married a local boy and have lived here happily ever after, but for a time the feeling of being an outsider lingered.
When my daughter graduated from high school I was thrilled when we were asked to give the traditional greeting and response at the Alumni Banquet. This honor is accorded to a parent and child who both can call the school their alma mater, and to receive this opportunity to speak at the Alumni Banquet made me feel, at long last, accepted! As I stepped behind the podium that night and spoke my gratitude to the little town that I have learned to call home, I felt the Lord's benediction on my head, "This is the home I've provided you!" His words were almost audible to me.
A few days later someone let it slip that we were the fourth...the FOURTH parent/graduate pair to be asked to give the greeting and response. The others had declined! I took this to the Lord with a feeling of chagrin and received the calm assurance that when the Lord says you're home, you're home; no matter how other human beings feel about the matter. I didn't achieve belonging by earning it, or through human recognition; I was given this blessing by the Lord.
Seven years later I received a call asking me if I would once again do the greeting at the banquet, this time as my graduating son gave the response. I readily accepted but with a bit more humility this time. I didn't ask how many others had turned down the assignment; I just rejoiced in my Lord and Savior who was so gracious to accord me this blessing a second time.
The memory of this experience and the lesson I learned as a result has come to me often in the ensuing years, reminding me that if the Lord says I belong, then I belong. And if he tells me I'm a caregiver, then I can be a caregiver--not by my own strength or merit, but through Him!
Scripture: "No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love...We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you" Psalm 33:16-18, 20-22.