This is an entry for caregivers who are striving to follow Christ in their every day lives.
I always hope that if people need to get past my Christ-centeredness, they can, but I do have to say they don't know what they are missing. And that is what this entry is about; what we miss when we resist the Lord.
And also let me say upfront that I have no objection to anti-depressants. My mom takes Prozac and it helps her greatly. I believe the depression that accompanies Alzheimer's is physiological, caused at least in part by the changes occurring in the brain. And there are many other physical and emotional conditions that can benefit from a serotonin uptake inhibitor such as Prozac, or some other class of anti-depressants. Depression is a horrible thing. Emotional pain from grief and loss can be too much to bear. I have nothing against pain relief.
I took Prozac briefly, years ago. It did make me feel a lot better. It also made food taste just incredibly wonderful to me. I am overweight because of a combination of rebellion (you can't tell me what I can and cannot eat) and because I have learned that I can stifle emotional and spiritual discomfort by feeding the physical. I am not a "foodie;" love of food has never been my difficulty. Prozac made me into a foodie. Just what I didn't need; especially since part of my depression stemmed from my inability to control my eating!
Anyway. I want to share with you what happened to me this week.
I began to obey the Lord! I had been resisting him, and I started obeying! After just two and a half days of increased intake of Scripture and following a diet that, if I continue, will lower my cholesterol and allow me to wean myself from the prescription antacids I've taken for years, I was euphoric. I was going around with a big, sloppy smile on my face feeling blessed, free of the struggle of resisting the Holy Spirit, at peace. It really was better than Prozac.
Of course, then the rot set in. The devil doesn't leave us alone when we are being obedient. And even though I'd felt a warning that the enemy would be coming for me, I fell. I spent yesterday afternoon experimenting with the photo program on my computer rather than posting this blog entry as the Lord had nudged me to do. Last night found me sitting in front of the TV eating chips and nacho cheese.
Well, praise God for His grace! I am so grateful to live in the age of grace, aren't you? I know all I need do is follow the well worn path of repentance, and peace can be mine again. Lord, please forgive me, nothing compares to what I have in You!
Here is how this entry pertains specifically to caregiving: taking care of a loved one who has dementia is painful. It makes us want to seek pain relief wherever we can find it. Sometimes we feel rebellious about the workload and heartache we've been assigned, and rebellion closes the heart to God. Furthermore, taking solace from sources other than the Lord brings the physical into ascendency. Since we are meant to discipline the flesh through submission to the Holy Spirit, giving way to the flesh takes us out of balance. Resisting the Holy Spirit has made me a very cranky caregiver, but I didn't feel strong enough to cope with the well of grief that came surging to the surface whenever I would declare a fast from overindulgence.
The Lord is so patient with us. During those seasons when we are stunned by pain of grief and immobilized by sorrows too deep to bear, He abides with us. As my mother once said, "I often have let go of the Lord, but He never let go of me."
As I moved into obedience I became cognizant of sorrows I didn't think I was strong enough to bear. Yesterday afternoon (before the nachos) I found I had risen shakily to my spiritual feet by obeying the Lord and discovered to my overwhelming gratitude that His yoke truly is easy, His burden light. He is strengthening me to bear the grief of my mother's slow dying. I felt like Theoden when Gandalf freed him from Saruman's spell: "Breathe the free air again, my friend!"
It is a difficult truth that our only true comfort lies in the arms of Him who has allowed us the grief and pain we face. But it is a incredibly freeing and joyful release to stop resisting Him and to run into His embrace. That's where I'm headed now and I invite you to join me! There is no other solace so sweet.