The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset this is the definition of patience.
I see patience as a slow process…like a muscle that gets stretched to its limit, then has a period of rest to recover; the process repeats until eventually the muscle is stronger. This week my patience has been stretched; I am beginning to understand how vital the capacity for patience will play in being an effective caregiver to my mom.
My mom’s mental acuity has been a rolling one, like a boat without a rudder riding up and down ocean swells. Mostly she has been very agreeable but then there are moments where she either gets anxious and angry or manic and panicky. I try to do a variety of things to keep her focused and her mind engaged. We took a drive to pick up 2 flats of flowers, I planted them in the pots she keeps on the deck while she sat in the sun listening to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Music is one of the things that she can do without her memory having to struggle…music is amazing! We played the board game Scrabble, which to my surprise she did really well and that was encouraging. I try to keep her active so she will be tired enough to sleep solidly through the night.
Then she has those moments where she fixates on something and it loops over and over in her mind…causing her to panic. Yesterday it was about calling the sprinkler company to get the sprinklers turned on and she had to have chili for dinner. Then eventually she will roll out of the fog and be back to a more reasonable version of herself.
The moments when she is most lucid, she realizes that she is having such memory problems and she mourns for herself, for inability to remember things and the inability to do most physical things that she easily did for herself. This morning I had to be stern with her; she was lamenting about being a burden on her children, that it shouldn’t be this way…parents are to be taking care of the children…that when you no longer can contribute you should just go away. I said stop, what does it mean to contribute? A valuable life is more than what a person can “do”, according to your statement then quadriplegics should just “go away”, those with learning disabilities should just “go away”…all life is precious. God has a plan for all of us, He knew you when you were being formed in your mother’s womb and He alone knows the number of your days. You have more yet to accomplish…it may not be for your benefit but perhaps for someone else’s benefit…perhaps mine. Would you rob us of that? This quieted her, she smiled and said I love you.
As we sit here together, she is reading the newspaper and I am writing this post, I am keenly aware that God is doing a work in me as much as I am ministering to my mom. The dictionary definition of patience is good but leaves out a particularly important element…love, and not just any love but the love of Christ.
In my Bible the chapters are broken into sections and each section has a heading. In Romans chapter 12 one of those section headings is titled Love In Action. “Love must be sincere. Hate wat is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LORD. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful to prayer. Share with the LORD’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ~Romans 12:9-13
My capacity for patience will only be stretched sufficiently when I practice the above actions. I can only practice the above actions when I avail myself to the working of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Come and stretch me LORD Jesus, may I then fall into Your arms of grace and peace to find my rest and recovery.