Taking care of my mom, who now lives with us, has certainly impacted my life — especially my freedom.
Much like when I was a mom of young kids, I now must consider her needs, and provide the supervision she requires as a result of Alzheimer’s. I listen to the same stories repeatedly. Answer the same questions. Show her how to do simple things over and over and over. She sincerely desires to help – to pull her weight – yet her assistance requires that I help her help me. This can be quite exasperating, something I attempt to do without undermining her dignity. Now I must order my days around her needs and am restricted from doing what I want to do when I want to do it. (A benefit of an empty nest!)
If I am honest, I fight feelings of drudgery.
I remember feeling similarly when my own kids were little. They would bombard me with questions and want me to read certain stories continuously. I would show them repeatedly how to do something. Their efforts to help usually meant more work for me. While I deeply valued being at home with them, sometimes I also grew weary of the repetitive, everyday tasks.
After writing a draft of this post, I picked up Utmost For His Highest, my favorite all-time devotional by Oswald Chambers and read the devotional for June 15. It starts out with the statement: “In the matter of drudgery.” That got my attention! First the Holy Spirit moved me to ponder this, and then the words of Oswald Chambers drove the point home.
Oswald Chambers said that “drudgery is the test of genuine character,” and that “the greatest hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will only look for big things to do.” While I know that having mom live with me is actually a big thing, it seldom feels illuminating or thrilling. I realize that I am more apt to see God in difficult periods, or when I have something “big” to accomplish, whereas in the common, ordinary happenings of everyday life, I can grow restless and fail to seek Him.
In what can seem like a “no-thrill” season of my life, I know that God is in the midst of it, perfecting me in ways I don’t yet fully comprehend.
Clearly, I must look for His grace and peace in the essence of ordinary life. He is certainly growing my patience, something that is tested daily, much like when I was at home with my own small kids. Plus daily I must choose between a grumbly perspective or a thankful one – and this choice makes all the difference in how the day goes.
To be sure, I am profoundly grateful for the blessing of time with my mom, who loves her God and her family and almost always embraces life with a cheerful outlook. Throughout the day, she will grab my hands and tell me it’s time to pray. While her speech is crumbling, her prayers are fluidly beautiful and heart-felt, bringing tears to her eyes each time. I love that my mom’s commitment to prayer is still in tact, and I pray that this will be a lasting reminder for me and my family to follow in her prayerful mindset.
Jesus’s short life on earth was clearly extraordinary, his influence came in ordinary ways, such as the washing of feet. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
“The snare of of the Christian life is in looking for the gilt-edged moments, the thrilling times; there are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, when God’s angel is the routine of drudgery on the level of towels and washing feet.”
NOTE: In the process of writing this post, Glen and I got some exciting news! We just signed a book contract with Kregel Publishing for a book tentatively titled “Generation Connection”. It’s about how parents can raise kids with the idea of connection and relationship in mind so that they end up with adult kids who love God and love family. We are SO excited about this. The release date is still to be determined, but we can’t wait to see what the next few months bring. This certainly adds a gilt-edged feel to this summer as the deadline to complete the manuscript falls in early September.