Friday, March 4, 2011

Dark Thoughts

A lady from Germany reads my blog occasionally.  Through one of her comments on my posts, I followed her link back to her website.  It was written in German!  I noticed my name and the title of my blog within a string of otherwise incomprehensible-to-me words, and so I copied and pasted a portion of the text into one of those translator sites.  Not thinking I would ever read her words she'd written something like this, "Linda Born has helpful things to say about caregiving, if you can get past her conservative religious perspective."  

I had a laugh over this, but my next thought was a hope that if anyone who reads my words needs to get past my faith perspective in order to receive the help and encouragement I have to give, that they can do so.  Indeed, it is my prayer!  

That said, here is my word to you today; don't let shame over dark thoughts keep you from the sustaining, forgiving presence of the Lord.  It's not that He loves you despite the sin, but rather that He loves you enough to have provided an escape from the sin.  That way is forgiveness.  If we don't acknowledge the sinfulness of the negative feelings of resentment, anger, and even hatred, we instead justify those dark feelings by saying that the person who is the target of the dark thoughts deserves them.   An Alzheimer's patient is a victim.  The old adage "Do not blame the victim" comes to mind. 

I've had some very dark thoughts of late toward my mother.  Yes, I have in my heart of hearts wished for this trial of caregiving to be over.  Nearly seven years of my life have been given in service as a caregiver.  The emotional and spiritual burdens of the time have thus far outweighed the physical work of caring for Mom. I've read the experiences of other caregivers, and I am aware I could have it much much worse.  Although it has happened occasionally, I have not routinely had to change adult diapers or scrub bodily fluids from the floor or linens.  But, I do bathe my mother, provide all her meals, and carry out housekeeping chores for her.  She sometimes expresses gratitude, but just as often she is somewhat demanding.  My heart takes a daily beating.  I can't be gone overnight or even for an evening out without making special arrangements for her.  

I'm not always nice to her.  Although I know better than to try to reason with a dementia patient, sometimes the injustice of my situation overwhelms me and I try to explain to her why she can't have unlimited crackers and pretzels (she has a bad knee and is overweight), or that the fact that I forgot to change the date on her whiteboard doesn't mean that she is being mistreated.  Sometimes she acts as though she is in a luxury hotel and that the paid help is not providing the expected level of service.  At those times I feel like her servant rather than her daughter.  It is hard to be nice.  It is hard to be Godly.  It is especially difficult not to react to her negative behaviors with anger and a raised voice, and then later to suffer overwhelming guilt.  She is completely dependent on me for all her needs.  I am the one who carries all of the power in our relationship.  I determine what she eats and when, what she wears, and how much social interaction she will receive during a given day.  It is always a sin to misuse power one carries over someone else. 

But through all of this I have a deep knowledge that my negative feelings don't remove me from God's love for me.   By continually bringing my resentment, anger, and yes, my sin into God's light, I've been able to accept that while I am not perfect, God is yet able to minister through me to meet the needs of His beloved Anna Ruth.  I have been aware throughout this caregiving journey of how precious she is to the Lord.  This awareness of the incomprehensible value of my mother's life in God's eyes has been the motivating force behind my willingness to continue to provide her care beyond the length and breadth of human love.  And it is my confidence that He loves me with the same intensity that He loves my mother.  This assures me that He does not forget me.  He's asked this service of me, He has provided strength and resources, and He will see me through it. 

My dark thoughts are not acceptable, but they are forgiveable!  

So are yours.  

Scripture:  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will rescue me...the LORD will perfect that which concerns me"  (Psalm 138:7-8 NKJV). 


  1. Very well said.

    What a great testimony...however unintentional... from your new blog friend in Germany.

  2. Wonderful grace-filled post! It blessed me! thank you!

  3. Oh my goodness, how I can relate to so much of what you've so eloquently and adequately expressed!!

    There are days when I handle being David's life support/caregiver/friend etc quite well; then there are days when I feel like I can't take it another minute.

    I always think of having a toddler, and we know they'll grow and get more independent. We know with Alzheimer's it's just the opposite.

    You're in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. How I got here, I'm not sure.... I've been blog hopping this evening. What I read has been fascinating! I'm a former Nursing Home Activity Director. I also taught a class on dementia to all new staff. I have a passion for those living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

    It's really late and I must get off this computer....I will stop by again! Blessings to you!

  5. Linda, your words are heart-felt and full of God's grace. My prayers go out to you and to all caregivers and others with loved ones living with Alzheimer's. Thank you for the reminder of how God wants us to live, and for the reminder that God loves us, even though we often fail miserably at living up to his desires for us. ((((((LINDA))))))

  6. Thank you for your post. I often think when I read your posts that even if not caring for someone with Alzheimer's a person benefits from the words you write if they open their heart to those words.

  7. I hope your blogger friend reads this post of yours.
    I started my blog after moms most awful years . She did still hit me and pinch and yell dirty words a little but there were so much more she did to me . I actully hated her and wanted her to die and said awful things to her . And now she does not hit,curse or yell at me. Almost everyday I think of the times I told her to please shut up. Now I wish she would yell at me but she does not ever whisper my name hardly anymore. I tell her how sorry I am. And without the Lord niether of us would of made it.

  8. Linda,

    I hadn't read your blog for months. (I had bookmarked it and all our bookmarks were erased somehow). I have been caring for my mom at home for 3 months now and today I am enjoying a much needed respite from caring for her. I decided to google your blog.

    This entry broke down a wall that I have been building as I have been going through so many emotions in regards to my mom and have isolated myself from God. (I have been wondering if He is even there).

    Thanks for being so open with your feelings. The timing is kind of hard to dismiss as a coincidence.

    Jenny K

  9. Praying for you right now, Jenny. I love it when the Lord works this way! I'm praying blessings for each of the dear ladies who have commented here.

  10. I have recently begun caring for an elderly neighbor with dementia... just for a couple of mornings a week... but even that tiny slice is a real eye opener. I can't imagine the burden and frustration that would result from being responsible 24/7!
    I'll be praying for you and your mom♥

  11. Linda--I don't think I realized how many of us are in the same boat, down to the dark thoughts and all. Your words lift me up, and I pray for you and your mother...I only hope that I can remember to turn to the Lord as often as you seem to be able to do. This journey is scary and without the Lord, I am lost. Thank you and please continue to write. Love, Jill