Monday, August 11, 2014

It Always Comes Back to Abiding...

This morning I've been complaining to the Lord about my Alzheimer's mom.  Her version of being combative does not include throwing punches, but she is adept at utilizing words as weapons. When she is in a certain mood, there is no way to speak or interact with her that can defuse her anger.  In these moods she twists my every comment into something negative, cuing from her own anger rather than from anything in her environment.  Mom often expresses contentment with her circumstances and great love for me, but during these dark times she seems infuriated. Because her anger is not in response to anything I can predict or chart, this keeps me off-balance emotionally.  

As I complained to the Lord I was in full cry, nursing hurt feelings and recording Mom's hurtful actions and words, when I felt led to thumb through the contents page of the caregiving devotional I wrote during the time I was transitioning into the role of caregiver for Mom.  The chapter heading "Abide in the Lord" caught my eye. 

I was a little bit sulky about this; I was busy painting a picture of myself as a victim and didn't want instruction.  But I did want to feel better so I read further:
Abiding isn't doing, it is being. Abiding isn't abstaining, it is indulging. I am to indulge myself in Christ...Sometimes I fall to the deception that if I avoid the acquisition of spiritual discipline, then I will somehow be protected against experiencing the “hard things” in life. The opposite is true, although the enemy of my soul would attempt to convince me differently. Battles will find me whether I am prepared or not. To come deeper into the Lord and to nurture my relationship with Him strengthens me to survive and to be victorious, even when I traverse “the thickets by the Jordan,"--Jeremiah 12:5 (p. 110-112 My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers). 
We are entering those "thickets by the Jordan" as Mom's Alzheimer's progresses. Now more than ever, abiding in the Lord is the discipline that will protect my heart from the venom of her disease-based behaviors. When I stay focused on God, He provides strength to respond in love even when a heart blow finds its target.  Describing the hurt in detail is not fruitful.  There is no distraction potent enough, no alternate source of comfort deep enough, no other place that provides the lasting comfort available to us when we open our minds and hearts to the Lord. 
Releasing my grief to Him and seeing His passion, His suffering, and His willing desire to take my pain upon himself has bound me in love to Him. I worship Him. I fall at His feet (p. 114, ibid).

"Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows ... the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4a, 5b).

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, New American Standard Bible).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).


  1. Oh I remember some of those times of hurt. It's not easy to take a barb from one you have known to be loving and kind. I wonder if you might let her know that you see that she is angry. It's a method used for distraught children in a meltdown. The parent (caregiver) says, "I know you're upset. You are angry. You want to... You want me to..." The volume of the response is matched to the volume of the distraught child. I used the method with my autistic grandchild and I used it with my grandmother with Alzheimer's. It seemed to work for both.

    I am sorry that your mom's illness is progressing. Praying for you both. Thank you for your refreshing honesty in these things... it is helpful to many.

  2. Thanks so much, Vee. I'll certainly give that a try. Bless your heart for taking time to share this.

  3. I tend to "endure" rather than "abide", but I like the passages you quoted, though I am not religious.

    I tend to find repeating "this too shall pass, this too shall pass" to myself in the midst of such moods (MIL has them too) helpful.

  4. Keira, "This too shall pass" is one of my mother's favorite sayings. This thought has helped grant her perspective through a lot of hard times.