"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
My mother's Alzheimer's has taught me the truth of Romans 8:28. Although I would never have believed it possible eight years ago when Mom was diagnosed, I can now list blessings that God has brought to our family not just despite Mom's disease, but in some instances, because of it. It takes time to see the pattern and purpose behind the Lord's plan, especially when sad or bad things are the catalyst for difficult changes in our lives. I truly have learned to wait and watch. Eventually His purposes become clear, gold rises from ashes, and we can say with true fervor, "Blessed be His Name!"
One of my blessings has been the opportunity to write and speak about Alzheimer's. To my amazement the Lord has often used me as a vessel to speak or write words that have helped other caregivers. Among that counsel has been a steady urging to take care of the caregiver. I have often used the "take your own oxygen first" story (airline flight attendants are instructed to breathe oxygen themselves before administering it to passengers to assure the passengers will have the help they need--an unconscious flight attendant is not of much help!). I'm usually urging people to spend plenty of time in soak before the Lord when I use this example; I never say we ought to put our desires ahead of the needs of our loved ones. But sometimes we caregivers fail to recognize that some things ought not to take a back seat to the needs of our loved ones.
Physical health issues, for example.
Here it is: I've let high cholesterol and higher-than-it-ought-to-be blood pressure take a back seat to the needs of my children and my mother. In the past year our family has celebrated a wedding, a birth, and of course, my mom's needs of me as her caregiver continue to escalate. I've had responsibilities relating to all of these events. As I said in an earlier post, on the days I find myself bathing my elderly mother in the morning and my young grandson in the evening after cooking and cleaning for my family all day, I understand the true meaning of the term "sandwich generation".
I would also like to confess that I've gained 15 pounds in the past two years. Bleh.
The self-condemnation I feel about having let my health issues go is unpleasant. Today I was shopping at Wal-mart and kept catching sight of my profile in the reflections of the
refrigerator cases. I felt so sad and
overweight. At the end of an aisle I
turned a corner and nearly ran into a great big man about my age. He was wearing a sleeveless denim shirt I
think…and had tattoos, and looked like a biker.
I apologized and he smiled the most beautiful smile at me. As he walked on past me he said, in a deep
rumbly voice, “You’re alright, you’re alright…”
and he was gone. I didn’t see him
in the store again. His voice…it
penetrated to my spirit and I felt like the Lord Himself was saying to me, “You are
acceptable. I accept you where you are
and how you are. You are alright.” Tears came to my eyes right there in
Now either the Lord sent his angel in the guise of a great big middle aged biker, or I am in worse shape emotionally than I thought. I just can't describe how comforting that man's words were to me. Angel or no, God used him to deliver a message to me today.
God accepts us right where we are. He puts His arm around us and says, "Because of the Blood of Christ you are all right. Put your sins behind you and come along with Me, and I'll take you to a better place. Obedience will close the portal the enemy has been using to gain entrance to your heart."
OK. I'm confessing to Him and with you, my readers, as witnesses, that I haven't taken care of myself like I should. I've disobeyed the Lord in my health habits and right now, Father, I ask forgiveness.
Turning over a new leaf here. Will report back to you as I go. Covet your prayers. Thank you!
Ugh. Humility is not easy for me.
God bless each of you today--and if you are a caregiver who has been ignoring health issues of your own while you take care of everyone else, considering coming along with me on this journey.
Tomorrow morning I will actually weigh myself.
Pray for me!
what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called
children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not
know us is that it did not know him. Dear
friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet
been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be
like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this
hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).