I believe that if I hadn't been in prayer about how to respond she might have attacked physically.
I could not (and can't yet) chart the source of Mom's upset. I'd been patient and kind earlier in the day when she didn't want to bathe. I'd delivered cookies and coffee a short time before her outburst. Pleasant words had been exchanged. She had seemed content.
Reasoning with her and praying aloud for her did nothing. "I've thrown up a wall you can't get through. There's not one thing you can do about this," she said.
A challenge that has been a blessing in disguise during our years as caregiver and patient is that Mom, probably because of the discomfort of an arthritic knee, does not like to make the effort to stand. Home care has been possible for her in part because of her disinclination to wander. As she used words to describe how she would spend the rest of her own life and hopefully mine torturing me, lying about me, and doing anything she could think of to make me miserable, she was safe in her chair and did not seem inclined to attempt to rise. I followed what I felt was God's guidance to quietly leave the room.
I texted two prayer partners to intercede for her and I called my daughter, who said she would bring her children to visit Mom. In the fifteen minute interval before my daughter arrived, I sat just outside Mom's room and prayed hard. When my daughter arrived she found Mom reading her Bible.
"Well hello Sweety, how are you?" Mom said.
The difference between the vindictive anger of just a few minutes earlier and this calm greeting was incredible.
Amazed by the difference in Mom in response to my prayers and those of my friends, I initially planned to write this post about the importance of steadfast prayer for care recipients (and this IS important). Satan has no respect for the weak and vulnerable, the opposite is true, and I felt if I'd only prayed adequately for Mom that the devil couldn't have had his way with her. But as I prayed over today's events, I realized no caregiving error had been made, no gap left unprotected in our wall. I was reminded that Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble..." In caregiving or any other mission field we can expect difficulty. We may also expect that God will deliver us from it.
And so the certainty of God's deliverance is the point of this post. Attacks will come even when we are doing everything right (sometimes especially if we are doing everything right). These hurts will often come through loved ones, and we shouldn't be surprised by this. We don't need to waste time with resentment or retributions. When the devil attacks it is most expedient to pray and ask others to pray.
The calm I felt as my formerly supportive and loving Mom attacked wasn't of myself. It was as though the Lord placed a buffer between my heart and Mom's words. I was aware of His presence with me, and I didn't feel anger, resentment, or even an aversion to Mom. It was God's grace that enabled me to pray for her with love, and no blows landed on my heart.
My mother has Alzheimer's disease and thus has suffered brain damage. This is the physical basis for her behavior, and she will be headed to the doctor after this holiday weekend so we can be certain no other discomfort is bothering her. Meantime I'll monitor her closely for any unusual physical symptoms. From her subsequent behaviors, though, I really think today's upset occurred in her spirit and emotions. She ate a good supper, was not restless, made no complaint over her evening walk, and has slept soundly through this night.
We don't have God's promise that our caregiving journeys will be carefree. What we do have is His promise of deliverance from trouble and His abiding, unfailing presence with us.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.--John 16:33