During the months leading up to my mother’s death, I was surrounded by people who loved me and my parents. They were wonderful to us, in many ways. They brought food, they ran errands, they visited, they sent flowers, and they prayed. I must say that the encouragement I received on almost a daily basis, was often what got me through the day. The Lord used these people greatly, not only to minister to my parents, but also to me.
On many occasions during those months, someone would tell me what a blessing I was to my parents. After all, I had moved in with them, leaving my husband and sons at home. I was on a complicated diet and had to cook all my own meals, not being able to benefit from the food being brought in by others. I had a chronic pain condition, but I still sacrificed the comforts of my own home to be there for my parents. But people, I have to be honest here. I didn’t feel like much of a blessing. In fact, there were days that my attitude and heart absolutely reeked!
I’m going to be very real here. I did not WANT to be a blessing to my parents, not in this way, at least. I’d rather mow their lawn or do their laundry. But live with my parents for an undetermined length of time that would culminate in my mother’s death? Um…no. Why did *I* have to be the one to do this? Oh yeah, I was the only child here. Yeah! For once, I wish I’d married and moved away like my siblings had.
When a person is dying, for whatever medical reason, in a slow deteriorating way, there are many stages they will go through and Hospice was very good at preparing us for those stages. Honestly though, some of them will make you want to run away. The hallucinations were awful: can you imagine thinking there were snakes in bed with you? I mean, seriously! It’s not like you can say, “there are no snakes, Mama” because to her, they were REAL! Instead, you promise her that you will stay there with her until they went away, and that they would be gone very soon. You may even pretend to knock them off the bed for her. You get INTO her hallucination WITH her. I wish I could say it would only happen once or twice. But it happened much more than that. Was this really what I had signed up for?
Even worse than the hallucinations were the delusions. These were the times when your own mother would look at you with pure hatred in her eyes because she was convinced that there was poison in the yogurt you were feeding her. She knew you were trying to kill her and how dare you say you were a Christian and yet still be trying to end her life. Do you know how much it hurt when said, “Why do you hate me?” If I really loved her, you see, I would take her home. They just can’t grasp that they ARE home! And you cannot convince them they are home OR that you don’t hate them. I cried so many times when she said these things to me. Only one time in front of her. But sometimes, I just got downright angry. When you knew she had to take her medication to get pain relief but she would hold them, and her Coke, in her mouth without swallowing for over an hour? Yeah. When it finally “went down,” it wasn’t down her throat that it went. It was trickling down into her covers as she spit out just a little bit at a time. The longer she kept it in her mouth, the angrier I got.
So when visitors would come in and tell me I was a blessing, I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was tired and angry; I felt used. I felt like I’d been abandoned by those who got to go home at the end of the day; or those who were too far away to come and help. I wanted to run away. And the hardest part was the knowledge that the only way this would come to an end was if…she died. So that must mean that I wanted her to die too, right? But I wanted it to END and that meant she would DIE…
I know this might cause offense to some, but bear with me. There are others reading this blog who either are, or will be, in my shoes one day. They need to know that they WILL have negative thoughts, just like these. They need to know they will be angry. They need to know it is normal. Most of all, they need to know that there is forgiveness.
If anyone could understand dreading something that was to come, it was Jesus. So much so, that He sweat blood through his pores when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just hours before His death. He asked His Father to please remove this event from His path. But people, His Gethsemane prayer brings forth another element that we must never forget. “Not my will, but Thine be done.” He loved His heavenly Father so much, that if His death was what it would take to save us from an eternity without Him, then He would do it, because there was nothing more important to Him than pleasing His Father.
I wish I could say that every time I had those horrible feelings during that time that I took them to the Lord right away. I can’t. My brother and sister can attest to the many times that I went to them first to moan and groan about the situation. It wasn’t my place to lay this on them, but they listened to me, they encouraged me, and the best thing they did for me? Thy prayed for me. I could come to them when I was too ashamed to bear my soul to those who thought I was a wonderful daughter. And eventually, I was able to humble my heart and approach God. Regardless of how dreadful my thoughts had been, I could ask Him for forgiveness and you know what? He didn’t criticize me. He forgave me. He continued to love me and yes, send people to me almost every day to encourage me. You see, there was no doubt in my mind that it was His will for me to be there. I had full assurance of that. But that did not make it easy! He is not the God of EASY!
There was a song that blessed me tremendously while I was with my parents. As I heard those compliments from others, I knew it wasn’t ME they were witnessing. It was God at work IN me! On the way to my parent’s one day I heard the song, Let Them See You by the JJ Weeks Band. This video is them singing it live on one of their visits to K-LOVE.
What are you doing right now to minister to someone? What do people see? Is is my prayer that they will see HIM…in you.