Monday, July 23, 2012

From the Ridiculous (me) to the Sublime (the Lord)...

I hope the conversation I've recorded below doesn't offend anyone, I really do. And I hope, no matter how straightlaced you are, you can allow yourself a smile at this exchange, which transpired between my husband and me after my mother had screamed for me at midnight because, and I quote, "I'm bored and thought you could talk to me until I fall asleep."  
Linda (With a good deal of exaggeration given I was addressing the man who had just emptied the dishwasher): I do EVERYTHING for EVERYBODY!

John:  I'm sorry, Hon.

Linda: (bursting into tears)  I wash her clothes and clean up her poop and empty her nasty trashcans and bring her three meals and two snacks a day and nothing I do is ever enough and all she does is just SIT THERE. She treats me like HIRED HELP.  She isn't even nice.  She acts like I'm inferior and that I fall short of her standards.  I feel like Cinder-freakin-ella!
Well.  Just in case anyone reading my words has gotten the idea that I am Wise and Spiritual, I think this will clarify the situation. But God is astoundingly gracious, and can use even the likes of me.  For reasons known only to Himself, He has allowed me to be a vessel for His gracious wisdom to caregivers. And if the heartaches I've endured can help others, what blessing, what an incredible blessing!  

Here are the facts of our situation: Mom's symptoms are not unique.  Alzheimer's causes egocentrism.  This happens because of brain damage.  A clue that shows my mother is not in her right mind is in how she identifies herself to me by her given name when she calls, saying, "This is Anna Ruth," rather than, "This is Mom."  She views me as the-person-who-is-supposed-to-take-care-of my-needs.  Disturbingly, her love for me causes her to vacillate between seeing me as her employee and as her daughter. I call it her Jekyll and Hyde routine:
"Sweetheart, you are so beautiful and you are such a precious blessing in my life..."
(Five minutes later, fixing me with an angry stare):  "Why do you suppose it is that my trash cans are never emptied?"  
The caregiver's challenge is to respond in love whether the dementia patient is kind or not, but is nearly impossible for me to avoid feeling hurt when my mother treats me unkindly.  And so the question becomes less about caregiving and more about responding in a Godly way when I am wronged:
"Linda (aka Cinderella), will you love as you've been loved and forgive as you've been forgiven?"  

As I do so often,today I've looked back to the wisdom God has provided me in the past during similar situations, which is easy because I wrote all that stuff down in a book and the Lord saw to it that it got published. And as you can see from my words here today, that was nothing less than a miracle.  It's all Him, praise His Name.

Here (finally) is that promised helpful guidance, from page 74-75 in My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers: 
What I cannot expect is to participate in the judgment or retribution that God brings down on the heads of those who have caused me pain. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Any sense of entitlement I feel as a result of having suffered wrong at the hands of another human being will lead me to sin. Apart from the Lord, the pain of being a victim of injustice plows my heart with hurt, making it a fertile ground for the growth of vindictive anger, fear that I won’t receive what is rightfully mine, and a desire of retribution. I administer judgment in the form of a critical spirit, harsh words, withdrawal from emotional connectedness, and a cold heart toward the suffering of others.

The balancing of the scales of justice is entirely in God’s hands. I sin when I harbor a desire to show them all. Revelation 3:9 says that the Lord will make all those who are of the “synagogue of Satan” fall down at my feet and acknowledge that God has loved me, but I want them to fall down at my feet and acknowledge that I was right and they were wrong. And I don’t mind viewing anybody who has hurt me as being a member of the synagogue of Satan! Again I trespass on ground that belongs exclusively to God; He is the only one qualified to judge.

It is humbling to finally arrive at the realization that the Lord’s love is so vast that He loves and freely forgives a prodigal. The elder brother was a proud and bitter man who could not forgive his brother as the father had forgiven. “Lord, please cleanse me of pride and forgive me for resentment and bitterness against those you have loved.” 
When I am unable to forgive, I risk a judgment day when I will have to fall down at the feet of those I viewed as perpetrators of wrongdoing toward me, and acknowledge that God has loved them. All things come to me from God’s hand and His alone, and vengeance belongs solely to Him.
Today’s Scripture: “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23-25).