Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let me not be a Jonah

7:31 p.m. Today's project was to take my dad to visit Steve after church and stopping at home for lunch and to check on the dogs. Daddy was very pleased to be invited, especially after hearing that as a result of prayer, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, told me the location of a document in my house that we'd been looking for! Colossians 2:2-3 speaks powerfully of God's wisdom, and His desire for His people

...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,  and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In the trying circumstances in my life today,  I also take care to heed the exhortation of  Colossians 4:5-6,

Walk in wisdom towards those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Today's temptation to disobey 3  directives from God was not so much what I needed to say (as it is many times) but what I need to be ready and willing to listen and respond to in love and in the power of  the Spirit!

Incident 1:  When a friend tried to stop me in my conversation with my daughter after church to ask after Steve and me, I gave her an unnecessarily quick response, citing the need to sign up and pay for our women's Bible study workbook--after all, today was the last day--instead of carefully reassuring her that Steve is doing well and so, actually, am I. Ugh, that was neither good nor very Christlike! When people faithfully pray for us, I feel we should courteously thank and converse with them as to the results of their prayers. Can you feel my conviction?!

Incident 2:  On my way to the Activities table, the administrator of our women's ministry staff stopped, hugged me and asked a favor: "Dana, do you know ---- ----? Her sister has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she's the caregiver, and she was asking me a million questions. I had no clue how to answer, so I thought of you. May I...?" I said, "You can give her my number, I'd be glad to talk with her and help if I can." That answer came out pretty well, but it wasn't from the heart, not really. Inside, I was rebelling, because I don't  want people to think of me only in terms of the dementia that afflicts my husband and his family. Is that pride, denial, fear of not being considered fit for any other area of service? After 30+ years of ministering to women through God's word and counseling them through every life issue imaginable, why the aversion to this issue?

Maybe it just cuts too close to home; God is still doing a work of acceptance in my heart and mind as to each new stage; and worse yet, I'm not sure I've handled my husband's tragic loss of his mind and abilities as tenderly and lovingly as I could have. So even though my words showed improvement, God knew my heart. So, on came

Incident 3:   After dropping my dad off at his assisted living from our visit with Steve, it was time to take a few minutes to myself and go to Vons for groceries. I was a bit torn about leaving the dogs any longer, but thought, "They're dogs, for goodness' sake!" and went in. I was humming, going through the beef case when I spotted the Director of Care Pathways for the Riverside County Office of Aging. Mary has been instrumental in my learning to handle all facets of Steve's disease and the care he's needed with her 12-week training course and monthly caregiver support groups (which I've missed for a number of months now due to business obligations). At first I played the mental game of "if she doesn't see me, I won't say anything," but that dog wouldn't hunt, not with the "Hound of Heaven" tracking me so closely today! So as she turned to come my direction, she still didn't see me, so engrossed was she in her list, making it a true temptation to disobey. I didn't dare, so I greeted her, and we talked for a long time, even touching on the role current research may one day have in my kids' lives. (Talk about a subject area where I really don't want to go). Then came the kicker--she asked me if I would consider connecting with a woman whose husband just got the diagnosis of Alzheimer's--and he's young like Steve. This lady is panicked, with no idea what to expect. I was the only one Mary could think of in the same situation, except that I'm 4 years ahead. My Spirit-convicted answer was "Yes, have her call me."

God obviously has decided that He wants me to minister to caregivers, I think that's plain. He actually told me so last year, when I was appointed captain of the Care Pathways team for the Alzheimer's walk. I've been a Jonah.  I wormed out of  an emotionally draining ministry, knowing it would feel like it would be piled onto an emotionally draining life. This year, with Steve unable to participate in the walk, I've been hedging on my answer, which makes this Incident 4! Looks like I'll be joining the team and redeeming myself at the same time...

Our heavenly Father wouldn't call us to serve Him unless He equips us to do so. No one is equal to His calling, not even the Apostle Paul, or Moses, or Joshua. and I certainly have not been equal to the ministries he has called me to in the last 32 years as a believer. We only can serve Him in spirit and in truth as He fills us with His Spirit and shows us what we must do. I certainly have no idea what I'll say when these ladies call, if they do. As for re-joining the caregiver support group, my peers have as much or more to share with me as I do with them.  I miss those friends, and our leader Darlene, too.

Time to send an email, I think.

And above all, time to repent!

1 comment:

  1. I rebelled also, Dana, and now have real joy in encouraging other caregivers. Thanks for being real honest in this post. Refreshing! And it is Scriptural to encouage others after we have been through (or are going through)a trial. That's one reason I follow your blog. Want to interview you soon about your caregiving of Steve.

    Hugs and prayers,