At the support group, we shared a potluck meal, learned techniques for providing a calming atmosphere for our loved one, and then shared our lives. I never realize how Steve's affliction is affecting me until I am asked directly about our life at this point. These fellow care giving gals are incredibly empathetic, because some are at the same stage with their parent or husband. I didn't get teary until I recounted what Steve weepingly said to our pastor last week: "Everyone else is working." We all agreed that work is a man's main life identity, especially men like Steve who had such a long and brilliant career. So when we go out and about in public, he naturally sees everyone else moving about with purpose, driving, hurrying to the next obligation. He told me "I feel like a plant," even though he has tasks and activities daily. But I know what he means: that to him, he isn't serving any purpose, and has to be led around by others. Yet he has a strong testimony and his life is accomplishing much for others, as I told him this morning! (See "The Witness of Steve's Life'" yesterday's post).
The others suggested asking his doctor about help for depression, because it now seems that Steve realizes that he's never going back to work, and feels that nothing will get better for him in this life. He had his frustrations before, but did his best to make the most of his days, joking and smiling along with others even if he couldn't follow the conversation. So I will have a conversation about that with his doctor, because no one should live hopelessly, especially a believer in Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:31 says,
If God is for us, who can be against us?
But for a person whose mind is not functioning correctly, it's a world of "can't anymore": can't walk steadily, talk normally, use a phone, write, type, drive, go about independently, earn a living, care for personal needs. I do not presume to comprehend what that feels like, and neither can you, probably.
It must be sheer torment...
But God is so actively "for us" in Steve's and my lives! Weekly, more and more friends are coming over and getting involved, from surprise meals, taking Steve for a guys' night out, landscaping and plumbing help, to walking and bathing the dog and beginning the garden prep that was just about to go by the wayside. It's as if the Body of Christ has been waiting with bated breath for us to need their help, just as I did for years, waiting for calls from church to see who might need a meal or a visit. Members of Christ's body eagerly serve one another in as many ways as God gives them talents.
Our situation reminds me of Elisha and his servant, surrounded by the great army, horses and chariots of the King of Syria in II Kings 6:14-17. Starting in verse 15:
And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Steve and I have a strong enemy that is afflicting his mind and body, the disease of Alzheimer's. But God is sending a Spirit-filled army of believers to aid us in this difficult walk. On a larger scale, all Christians have one enemy, the enemy of our souls, the devil. His goal is to destroy our physical lives that we might forsake our allegiance to our King, Jesus Christ. In a more universal version of the Elisha's chariots of fire, I John 4:4 gives all born again believers this assurance: