The elderly woman shuffled out the door of the nursing home. Her husband drove up and got out of his car to open her door.
Her words said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that,” but her smile said, “I love how you pamper me.”
In a strong Russian accent he lovingly replied, “How many times (will) I have this honor?”
In his twilight years, he still considered it an honor to open the door for his wife. And savored each time he had the opportunity. Not knowing how much longer he’d have with his bride. He sincerely cherished the privilege to serve her.
What a blessing it was to witness his caring spirit!
Who knows how long he’s been caring for his wife? Who knows how many decades he’s tenderly helped her?
Who knows how long you’ve been caring for your child who has mental illness (MI)?
No one knows how many times you’ve extended kindness without getting any thanks in return. No one knows the hurt you feel when your loving acts are shunned or not acknowledged by your child. No one knows how hard it is to keep doing it. Day after day.
Our job is often a thankless job. And yet we continue. Why? Love compels us.
Many of us serve family members to honor God. Knowing He sees our compassionate parenting.
God understands our motives and our pain. The Psalmist echoes our desires:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
Do you ever wish you could simply give up? Get away. Take a vacation from all the responsibilities.
I used to teach second graders. I loved teaching, but hated grading papers. One day, while buried in papers, I whined to my husband, “I HATE grading papers!”
He calmly advised, “Don’t think of it as something you have to do; think of it as something you can do.”
What a transforming thought! I don’t have to view hard work or difficulties as drudgery. It’s my choice how I perceive unpleasant or challenging situations.
Like having multiple sclerosis (MS) in addition to having a son with MI. I can view it as a curse or a blessing.
A fellow MS patient once shared her reaction to the two disabilities in our family. “What a double whammy!”
I replied, “Actually, it’s kinda bitter sweet. Yes, it stinks to have MS. But, my son Chris and I understand each other’s medical challenges. He’s very compassionate about my cognition problems. He once told me he’s glad that he can help me in return for everything I’ve done for him. Chris witnesses the peace God gives me and knows it’s for real.”
We all have a choice. Some days are better than others. Sometimes it’s easier to maintain a positive attitude. Other days, only God’s grace can help us manage a smile.
When I’m having one of those days, it helps me recall the words of a black Baptist preacher. He bellowed his admonition, “Wives, when you wash the dishes, do it AS UNTO THE LORD! Men, mow the lawn AS UNTO THE LORD! Teens, do your homework AS UNTO THE LORD! Children, clean your room AS UNTO THE LORD! Workers, complete your tasks AS UNTO THE LORD!”
The Holy Spirit fills my head with those words. They prod me to keep going as if coaching me through my day. Do it as unto the Lord. That’s right. Do it as unto the Lord. You can do it. Do it as unto the Lord.
A favorite song reminds me of my free will to praise God no matter what. The song, “Blessed Be Your Name” expresses my intention:
“You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name.”
MS has taken away my ability to teach second graders. But, my heart chooses to say, “Blessed be Your name, Lord.” With an eternal perspective, I’m able to notice the advantages of having MS. Grading papers are gone, and occasional photo shoots are in. I can visit my mother an aunt periodically. How I cherish those get-togethers! Just like that dear man holding the door for his wife, I don’t know how much longer I have with them.
I can sigh, “No one knows what I’m going through.” Or, I can choose to remember Him. My heavenly Father knows. He is well-pleased with my labors. He knows I’m doing the best I can.
Think no one knows? God sees it all. Keep going for Him.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7