Taking care of my 88-year-old mom, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, reminds me of the days when my own kids were toddlers.
Her need for supervision.
Her efforts to do things independently despite the fact that she can’t.
The spills and accidents.
The need for repeated reminders.
Yesterday had been a particularly difficult day and I needed a fresh perspective, so I decided to replace my grumpy attitude by trying to be grateful instead and by focusing on what God was doing within me in this journey with my mom. “Thank you for these moments with my mom and thank you for using this time to grow my patience and gentleness,” I wrote in my journal. Immediately as I penned these words, it dawned on me that being gentle was exactly what God was perfecting in me. Just like with my own kids, being impatient and reacting harshly served only to breed fear and insecurity.
I need to be more gentle. Like Jesus.
Isaiah 40:11 speaks of his gentle nature, stating “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
King David proclaims in Psalm 18:35 that “Your gentleness made me great.”
I reflected back to yesterday when I had reminded my mom, again, to put her dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and not her dirty tissues. To be sure, I had reminded her a bit sternly, having grown impatient over her daily practice of filling her laundry basket with soiled tissues and placing her dirty clothes in piles around her room. Although her reasoning skills have diminished greatly, she could perceive that I was annoyed with her. As a result, she felt like I had put her down and that she was a disappointment to me.
This morning, I woke up to find her laundry hamper placed outside her bedroom door. Having spent considerable effort trying to find one she would like, I felt annoyed again, but this time I chose a gentle path by softly asking, “would you like to have this basket to put your dirty clothes in?”
“It’s too pretty to use,” she told me, “ so I thought I would put it out.” Grabbing her by the hands, I smiled and told her “it’s why I bought it for you – a pretty basket for my pretty mom to put her soiled clothes in.” Later in the day, I found clothes, and not tissues in her basket. I know that tomorrow is a new day which means she may forget what the basket is for again but I don’t want her to forget that she is valued and worthy of my respect.
Gentle. It’s what I need to be with her.
Gently strong is what we need to be with our children.
We need to be their authority and consistently uphold wise standards and expectations, but we need to do so in loving ways. The third beatitude, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” speaks of this quality. The word, meekness, in Greek, refers to strength that is properly controlled and covered in humility.
What does the Bible say about gentleness?
Wisdom from above is gentle. (James 3:17)
We are to correct others with gentleness. We are to restore others in a spirit of gentleness. (2 Timothy 2: 25, Galatians 6:1)
A soft answer turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)
Jesus is gentle and lowly (humble) in heart. Matthew 11:29
We are to bear one another in love with humility and gentleness and with patience. (Ephesians 4:2)
We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. (I Timothy 6:11)
There is no law against gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:23