Monday, May 15, 2017

The Bitter - Sweet

This was a crazy weekend for us and my emotions are ALL over the place. If I'd rest for a few minutes, I'd probably find out that I'm exhausted! Given half a chance, I'd crawl away to a cave and sleep for days and come out saying, who knew? As caregivers, we don't have that luxury. As a matter of fact, since we were out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, I thought Chris would crash but he's awake at 4:30 this morning. Seriously?

Yesterday, we went to church. I know - quite remarkable we made it two Sundays in a row, right? After being out on Saturday it was a bit much for Chris and he was obviously uncomfortable. So, on one hand, it was nice to be in services with my sister's family and my mom and dad. On the other, I wish Chris could have been more comfortable.

For me, yesterday was a double whammy. For one, I enjoyed being with family, loved being able to
be with my daughter's family and the grandkids. We had a long row at the restaurant and it felt nice being there together. We set Chris' chair at the end so it wasn't sticking out into a walkway but since he wasn't feeling good, I didn't feel comfortable feeding him there.

Mother's Day was awkward for me emotionally. I can't tell you how much I love my daughter and enjoy every single second with my beautiful grandchildren. But on Mother's Day in particular, I miss the children Chris can't have. That might not make any sense to anyone else - but it's part of the grieving process for caregivers of children. There can be many questions- if he hadn't had the wreck. Who would he have married? Would they have children? What kind of job would he have? Would he even show up for holidays? A beautiful day can be turned into sorrow so easily and emotions can be all over the place.

For me - that's only half of it. The other half of the double play is watching my mom in slow decline. I'm not directly her caregiver, but she's slowly fading from us. Even the doctor who diagnosed dementia said it's moving fast. She's not chatty like she used to be. The mom I know would have talked to most of the people at church yesterday and known most of their stories by the time we left. The good thing is for now, she knows who we are - at least while we are with her. She gets who's married to who and whose kid the grandkids are mixed up, but she knows us when we are talking to her or sitting with her. It's so very sad to lose her this way.

Personally, it bothers me that I can't provide more care for my mom. I'm still thinking of getting a bigger place so I can do more. But I also realize I do have my hands full with Chris. I get frustrated. I can't be the daughter/caregiver because I am the mother/caregiver. I'm the rescuer. When things go wrong or there's a problem that needs fixing - I'm the one who wants to find solutions and answers. But for these life-situations, there's not always a fix.

So here I am with full hands and a full heart looking up to Him one more time. Where do I put all this? What do I do with these raw emotions? I go the only place I know to go - to my knees before His throne. Then, I take action by doing the only thing I can do. I lay it all down before Him. None of my emotions or thoughts are unknown to Him - I have nothing to hide and nowhere to hide it from a God who sees all.

He knows the frustration. He knows the pain. He knows all the longings of the heart. What comes to mind is when the Children of Israel were coming out of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea and then came to Marah, which means bitter. It was named Marah because the waters were bitter - and they couldn't drink there. God handled too much water by leading them through on dry land. But now, what will He do with bitter waters?

He instructed them to cut down a tree and throw it in the water. What? Since when does a tree have the natural qualities to make bitter water sweet? When it's a cross. Sometimes, life brings us by bitter waters and it takes the cross to make them sweet enough to drink. It's His grace that carries us through the rough days. His mercy working in us that makes our bitter walk sweeter.

So in this moment, I'll chose to refocus on the cross. I will remind myself that He bore my shame, my pain, my sorrow and my grief. And today - I'll let Him. I'll empty my hands and my heart before Him and wait on Him. To heal.To restore.

Today, I'll shift my focus away from my emotions and back to Him. (This might take all day to do too!) To start, I'll make a grateful list. I'll begin writing out on paper things I can think of that I am thankful for. That'll be my starting place and it will allow me to shift my focus off these raw emotions and in a different direction. My meditations will be on all He's done for me to bring me to this place, and I'll be thankful. I'll take a posture and an attitude of thankfulness as I make today my personal Thanksgiving Day. My thoughts will be on all He's done - I'll take a look back at the promises He's fulfilled and the other times in life I've seen Him make the bitter water sweet, the Red Seas of my life He's led me across safely. And I'll say thank you to Him one more time as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me? Happy Thanksgiving!

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