As a caregiver do you ever begin to feel invisible?
Sometimes it seems to me that my own needs, worth, dreams, and desires have become not only invisible, but unattainable; crushed beneath the weight of the needs of others. My mother, former champion of everything Linda, no longer sees me as the object of her affections; I am now the meeter of her needs. "What would I do without my Linda?" she asks, smiling seraphically. And then, "Honey would you get me some coffee (Kleenex, an afghan, some crackers, sit down and talk, come see me more often, etc. etc. etc.)?"
This is not who my mom was pre-Alzheimer's. She is not being lazy or selfish. "In Alzheimer's disease the ability to ask for help outlasts the ability to perform the multiple steps required to carry out a task for oneself." That last sentence is straight out of the PowerPoint presentation I've given to several groups in the past couple of years. I wrote those words and I know they are true.
But I am caught in that "sandwich generation" time of life, a time when I consistently am called to place the needs and desires of others above my own. Resentment and bitterness are dangerous snares for those who feel they've been made invisible through caring for others.
This morning I realized that I've once again fallen to resentment, but not toward any human being. Resentment and anger toward the Lord have crippled my walk with Him of late. I finally confessed this to Him. I feel like the middle child who is flanked by a more accomplished and worthwhile older sibling on one side and a cuter and needier baby on the other. Ignored. Invisible.
Here are the thoughts that flowed through my mind in the wake of my confession:
God knows you completely. He has accepted you, and He loves you. He loves you because you belong to Him; you were sculpted by the artist who is perfect and all He creates is good. You have resented the feeling that you are nothing apart from Him because you know you are good only because of Him. That is true, but only in the sense that a perfectly cut crystal is not beautiful if there is no light. He is your light, there is no other who can illuminate you; all other so-called lights are either counterfeit or so inferior that they are scarcely light at all. Apart from Him, you can do nothing, but in Him, you are beautiful; don't you see this precludes pride and creates gratitude? It isn't so much that you are nothing without Him as it is that you are invisible apart from Him. There is tragedy in the thought of a beautiful jewel trapped in darkness. Stretch out your arms in the warmth of God's light, and rejoice in the fact of the beauty He has provided you, beauty that is of God your creator; rejoice in what He has wrought in you by His hand, rejoice in His light.
I don't need my mother's appreciation or approval. I don't need the attention and applause of human beings at all. I can serve because I am loved by my Creator, who saw what He made and called it "good." When I abide in His light I can bask in His approval, and that's all I need.
Becoming a servant offers the opportunity for me to rid myself of pride and to emulate the Lord Jesus Christ. It means reflecting His light and giving up the attempt to shine with a light of my own. It means putting the needs of others ahead of my own. Frankly, I'm not equal to the task. But the blessed fact is that when I come to the Lord and with tears of grief over the demise of my own carefully constructed plans for the future yet say, "Thy will be done," He goes to work in my heart and mind.
Sometimes it just takes my pea brain awhile to get on the same page. I'm here, Lord, and I'm willing to be made willing to give up my rights to myself in order to be more like You.