The other day, I ran into the daughter of a resident who lives with my mom in her nursing home. She is an amazing woman. At the beginning of my mom’s stay, I had seen her helping out so frequently at meal times, I began to think that she worked there! But, it was more than just the amount of time that I saw her there that impressed me, it was her warm rapport and loving compassion that flowed from her as she interacted with the residents. She knew each of the 15 or 20 people by name, and she seemed to know each one of their unique personalities and individual needs.
We started talking about our moms, about why they are there, and a little bit about our family histories up until this point. She expressed how she and her mom have had a rocky relationship for much of their lives together, but that she feels so incredibly blessed now to be caring for her. We talked about how at times, giving that gift of unconditional love can be very difficult to do, especially if there had been unresolved issues or resentments in the relationship. Giving that sort of selfless love can be hugely painful, and sometimes requires a gigantic amount of sacrifice, but ultimately, it proves to be enormously rewarding and life giving in the end.
I think of another conversation in an email that I had with a friend recently. She was explaining how she had taken care of her father for 3 years before he finally passed away from cancer this past fall. She talked of the difficult burden she carried of being the only one who knew the secret of how long her father had left to live, as her father did not want anyone else in the family to know. She was even told to keep the secret from her mom, as well. She expressed how very challenging it was during those 3 years, but yet, she truly feels that it was an incredible blessing and a huge gift to be able to share in that journey with her father up until his passing.
These examples cause me to remember what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 5:1-12) .
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
When your parent is so sick and vulnerable, you feel very helpless and lost at times, not knowing what to do to ease their troubles or pain. You find yourself being freed from certain expectations and attachments, such as letting go of long held dreams of the way you wished or hoped your life could be together. You become spiritualty poor in the sense that you begin to fully realize just how much you desperately need God’s grace to guide you every step of the way. In that state of spiritual poverty, you know that you can not do it alone, and you realize what an amazing blessing and gift it is that you don’t have to!
This week I feel blessed, because mom has started physical therapy again, in order to help her possibly walk someday. We had tried physical therapy with her for 18 months, and this past October I had to make the painful decision to stop her therapies, as she was consistently very uncooperative and shown to have made hardly any progress during that time. At this time, she is very cooperative and willing to work at it, so we are giving it another go! Time and God willing, mom will be able to hopefully walk again someday, which would be no small miracle!!!
Two years ago, I was very blessed to travel to Ephesus, where Paul the apostle preached and was believed to be imprisoned. It is also the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, was believed to have been taken to live out her last years with St. John, who was a very close friend and beloved disciple of Jesus. Visiting Mary’s house was an amazing blessing for me, as I have a very strong love and devotion for her! (below is a pic I took in Rome, a mosaic of Mary)
The following passage is from Ephesians 1:3-14. I had read somewhere how a bible study teacher had used this passage as a prayer exercise with her students that seemed very personal and powerful. I encourage you to insert your name in the blanks of this passage….and hear Paul speaking directly to you!!
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ________in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose _______ in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined ________ for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given _____ in the One He loves. In Him_______has redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of her/his sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on her/him. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to when ________ believed, she/he was marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing her/his inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:3-14, modified)
In Christ….we are so blessed!!
God’s blessings are dispensed according to the riches of his grace, not according to the depth of our faith…..so…..we don’t give up. We look up. We trust. We believe. And our optimism is not hollow. Christ has proven worthy. He has shown that he never fails. That’s what makes God, God!! (Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado)