Growing up, my parents modeled caring for family members so well. My paternal grandmother lived with my parents for a time in the late ‘60s (before I was born), and my mom and aunt cared for my maternal grandmother toward the end of her life in 1991. Even as a family that was mostly non-religious, they taught me that caring for elderly parents was important and valued. The elderly are God’s image-bearers, and he tells us in Exodus 20:12 to, “Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
In 1996 I was helping to care for my own mother as she unsuccessfully battled ovarian cancer. And now 27 years later, my dad is living with us as he battles dementia. It’s a legacy that I’m thankful for and that God has used to teach me about myself and him.
My dad has been with us for a year and a half now. Nothing (except maybe motherhood) has exposed my sin and weakness like this.
Many times, I’ve relied on the comfort that being in control has provided. I’ve had to learn to relinquish my control where my dad’s dementia is concerned. Flexibility and patience have helped to communicate love and care to him when words sometimes can’t.
Time constraints and expectations I’ve put on myself (and my dad) have only led to frustration, resentment, and angry exchanges. I’ve had to learn to embrace his limitations. I’ve had to understand that I don’t always have to be right. I’ve had to enter into his reality and be okay that he’s telling me something for 10th time or something I know isn’t accurate.
The only way I’ve been able to do this is with God’s help. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Being an only child, I knew that my dad was my responsibility, and I felt like I needed to carry all of it by myself.
One morning God impressed upon me that I couldn’t continue to do this without him and asking for his help occasionally wasn’t enough. I started asking God to “give me what I need for THIS part of my day.” As I’ve done this, my trust in God has grown and he has increased my joy!
Caring for parents towards the end of their lives is a great privilege. It’s messy, wonderful, surprising, tiring, and humbling. It honors God and our parents. It changes us for the better.
Excluded to Belong
Recently a woman at PCC told me she never feels like she fits in. This would have been less surprising to me had she not been someone who seems to have so many friends – in fact, someone who so many want to call friend. This caused me to reflect on how often I hear women say they feel like they don’t belong. I imagine that social media plays into our feelings of exclusion – the pictures of parties and gatherings to which we weren’t invited, or the BFF who we thought was our BFF with someone else. But long before Facebook or Instagram tempted us to portray ourselves as part of the in-crowd, people felt like they didn’t fit in.
Fitting in is something that I’ve struggled with as well. A few years ago, I, in a small group meeting attempted to answer an ice-breaker about high school years. I shuddered. For me, they were years that had left me a bit scarred. The others in the group, however, had assumed that I had been one of the popular kids, probably home-coming queen and a cheerleader. NOTHING could have been further from the truth. And even now as a believer many years later, I struggle with coming to an event on my own. I worry about who I will talk with at half-time on a Sunday morning, and I can feel left out of the social hubbub I’m convinced everyone else is enjoying on a Friday night.
I’m starting to understand, though, that I’m not the only one who feels like she doesn’t fit in. It’s in all of us – perhaps that’s the appeal of social media, posting in order to prove to ourselves more than anyone else that we do fit in, that we have a place in this world. But that, too, is a lie. We are actually strangers and aliens in this world. We are a people who don’t fit in with the prevailing spirit of the age; Instead, the Lord has made us a people who become aware of our own inadequacies and thus more thoroughly dependent on His sufficiency. He’s made us a people who long for justice in a world where it feels too often denied. He’s the One who sovereignly allows our sufferings so that we can enjoy the fellowship of His suffering, all the while growing in compassionate care for other sufferers.
No matter our earthly circumstances, well-off or poor, healthy or sick, mentally ill or relatively stable, educated or illiterate, in Christ we have been grafted into an eternal family where we unequivocally belong. And once in, we won’t get kicked out. There are no losers in the Body of Christ. None. The Lord is preparing for each one of His own a crown of unfading glory. (1 Peter 5:4) He has clothed [us] with the garments of salvation; he has covered [us] with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Is 61.10) He has given us the wedding garments which guarantee us a place at His table, the ultimate invitation. We have a guaranteed reservation for the new heavens and new earth where we’ll know, without any more doubt, that we belong.
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.