Sunday, March 2, 2014

Conversation

Negative emotions are a job hazard of caregiving, but when we bring those emotions to the Lord He knows just how to provide what we need, be it correction, encouragement, or a call to repentance. The most important strategy to remember in dealing with resentment is this:  always bring it to the Lord!  Otherwise it will fester into self-condemnation, anger, and eventually, rebellion.

I record my prayers in the form of conversations between the Lord and me, and in my ongoing commitment to avoid portraying myself as a never-frustrated, always-perfect-and-Godly caregiver (!), I've chosen to share the interchange below:
Linda (tattling): Mom chose to stay in bed after I brought her coffee and told her it was time to get up, and just now, an hour later, she called to ask me to warm her coffee. I told her I'd get there when I could, but I feel angry. 

Lord: She has Alzheimer’s.  The message she receives from an angry tone of voice is that you don’t care about her. 

Linda: (mad because the Lord doesn't say "There, there you poor thing") She treats me like a waitress!  It isn't that she can't get out of her chair or doesn't know how,  it's that she is too lazy to go to the microwave and heat the coffee herself!  She treats me like paid staff rather than a beloved daughter.  I hate that and I am angry over what she has become.  How am I supposed to bear this?
(Pauses, recognizes anger has caused overstatement of what's true, tries again...)

It is just incredibly frustrating.  She is rebellious about getting out of bed when I tell her it is time.  So she lies there.  Then she forgets that she has been rebellious.  After I've coaxed and called several times she finally comes out and her coffee is cold.  So she calls me to heat it. 

She closes her mind to any kind of logic path.  It isn’t that she’s unable to follow me cognitively, its that the instant she receives a whiff of the fact that she’s being scolded she goes on the defensive with those infuriating, sarcastic, pre-packaged replies: 

“Oh, I must be a really terrible person”
“Well you have to do whatever is best for you”

It is infuriating.  I hate being manipulated by her sin, and understanding what's happened to her makes me hate it even more because I see myself in her.  I am terrified of becoming like her in her helplessness and especially in her way of inviting rejection as she does when she's sarcastic and rude. 

Lord:  And yet you love her. 

Linda:  I love her, but she can drink cold coffee.  (Pauses...sees a mind picture of Christ bringing coffee to Mom). 

(Sighs resignedly...) You would take her a hot cup of coffee. 

Lord:  I would. 

Linda:  You would bend to her level and laugh love and camaraderie into her eyes and make her feel beloved. 

Lord:  Yes. 

Linda:  BLAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Lord:  Don’t go in guilt, or because you feel manipulated.  Let Me love her through you, and you will be blessed as well. 
 With that picture of the Lord loving Mom with His kindness fresh in my mind, I took hot coffee to my mother.  She had dozed off in her chair with her cold coffee mug tilted at a precarious angle in her lap, and so I visited with her while she sipped the new, hot beverage in order to keep her awake and safe from a spill.  She said, "You are so good to me, I am so blessed."

Well...not exactly.  The Lord is the One who is good, and He blesses my mother through me and sometimes despite me.

God doesn't ask perfection of us as caregivers, only humility to continue to bring our failings and frustrations to Him.

Prayer:  Lord grant me humility to respond as You would respond to my mother.  And Lord, I thank You for her, because in so many ways her presence here blesses me still.  I'm truly grateful for this unexpectedly long goodbye; grateful for this extension of time to have my mother.  Thank You, Lord, for my mom.   

1 comment:

jbsews said...

Thank you, Linda, for being open and bringing God's perspective right out front. You are an encouragement!