It has been a more than a year since my mother exhibited negative words or behaviors toward me, other than a normal, transient irritability when she is physically uncomfortable. Gone is the focused, resentful, anger that held me in its throes during her last year at home, as her Alzheimer's progressed beyond her ability to reason logically or perceive accurately. She now views me as her advocate and defender, and this has allowed her to release her past anger toward me. This has been a healing time, and I am grateful for it.
Interestingly, I've not had much trouble accepting our current, loving status quo. This has to be God's grace; how sad it would be if I'd gotten stuck on our timeline at the soul-shriveling point where my mother was so angry with me that she often expressed a desire that I would suffer in some way. Somehow, I've been able to accept this change, and to relate to Mom as though she has now come to an accurate understanding and remembrance of me as her beloved, only child. This is real; that other was just a terrible misunderstanding that came from Mom's diminished ability to draw accurate conclusions from environmental cues.
I want to encourage caregivers who are suffering verbal abuse from their care recipients; things can change. As your loved one's disease and circumstances transition to a different stage, positive changes can happen, even late in the disease process. Your time of suffering is temporary.
And I also have a word for all of us, as we relate to loved ones whose past hurtful words and actions can't be attributed to a disease. Even in the absence of a physical condition that gives us a reason to excuse aberrant behaviors, we all do one another wrong. How do we forgive one another? How do we relate to our loved ones based on current realities rather than past wrongdoings? Because onlookers, especially children, tend to accept the current status quo and be largely unaware of past sins or grudges, we are at risk of looking like fools and bringing judgment onto our own heads if we respond to others based on past wrongs while failing to accept current behaviors that may reflect positive change.
Well-rehearsed spiritual truths come into play here: judge not that you be not judged, forgive and you will be forgiven, keep no record of wrongs, cover over the sins of others, always hope for the best, trust, persevere...
If we trust the Lord to take care of us, we don't have to keep anger over past wrongs as a preceived defense against the same kind of hurts happening again. We don't have to judge in order to keep the other person in his or her place; that is God's job. Forgiving past wrongs frees us to live in present peace.
Prayer: Dear Lord, keep us from getting stuck on our timelines at a point of hurt, and grant us the freedom of forgiveness so we can move forward into the safe and peaceful times You have engineered for us. Thank You for hearing our prayers back when we were hurting so badly. Now hear our praises for bringing us out into an easier, blessed place. We pray for those who are suffering, that they will call out to You and be ushered into spacious places of their own. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.