There are those times in life when time stands absolutely still. A single phone call can leave you systematically frozen in place and hurled through the air all at the same time. These times threaten everything we know to be true and right. They rock us and shake us to our very core and it’s there we find out what we really believe in.
I have experienced and survived many of these moments in my life. At the raw age of 14, the phone rang with news that my mother had been in a car accident. I left the house of a friend vowing to be back soon for her birthday party only to find out minutes later that my mother did not make it. I left the hospital that night sandwiched between my mother’s parents. We rode home in loud silence.
From that moment on, the number one woman in my life was the sweet woman who had the passenger seat next to me the night my world spun out of control – my Mema. She was my constant. She stepped right out of the role of grandmother and into the role of mother in one seemingly graceful motion. Through junior high, high school, college, and multiple heart breaks my Mema was there to guide me and help me navigate life. Our story is a book in itself.
Yet, our story was rudely interrupted by an uninvited guest: Alzheimer’s. As the light in her eyes began to fade I felt frozen in time once again. Unable to hold onto to someone I love so dear, I felt my foundation crumbling and I scrambled to make sense of my world.
Broken, this is what I wrote in my journal in 2008:
I need to clean. I don’t mean just sweep the floors, I feel the need to clean the base boards. I need to c-l-e-a-n. I feel the overwhelming urge to go furiously through the house and pick up everything I can find. I feel the overwhelming urge to clean my car. Vacuum in places most people would never even look. I need order!
Yet, I know this feeling.
My house is not dirty.
My car is not any messier than the normal car of the proud owner of a toddler!
I know this need.
It is the need of a child of God who desperately seeks clarity and meaning.
I need to clean, and yet no amount of Clorox is going to fix this problem. I can’t sweep up the pieces of Alzheimer’s that are scattered all over our lives. I can’t dust out the cobwebs in Mema’s mind. No amount of Windex will bring back the shine in her eyes. What I want to clean, I can’t get my hands on! So once again I am faced with this uncomfortable reality:
“I am not in control”.
Yet, just like the writer of Lamentations, I call this to mind and therefore I have hope!
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord!” Great is your faithfulness!
I believe if we could hear the soundtrack of Mema’s life we would hear:
“Great is your faithfulness!”
He’s always been faithful and He still is faithful – even when it all seems so terribly wrong.
Mema may have been a constant in my life, but she could not be my foundation. I had to come to fully grasp the truth that only God’s compassions never fail. As I write this, I have just added a new chapter to my journey with Alzheimer’s. I recently moved Mema into a Memory Care Unit. I hurt. I grieve. Yet, I have hope. I am not consumed.
I invite you to “Be still and know He is God!” What is it you feel like you need to clean today? Remember that the things you need cleaned up you can’t reach!
You can’t grasp control any more than I can sweep away Alzheimer’s. The Lord is your portion. Wait on Him. His compassions never fail. The only thing you truly can control is where you put your faith.