Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
As my parents age, they become more frustrated with their physical decline. I can understand it. I will be sixty years old next week, and I have aches and pains that I never used to have. It takes me longer to recover from injury or fatigue, and I just can’t do what I was able to do when I was younger. So I can relate to their frustration.
However, included in the aging process for them as people in their mid-eighties, is also their own mortality. Their friends are all dying, and they have more issues to deal with as elderly persons. My dad has talked to all of us about the final arrangements and where to find the paperwork that provides information once he’s gone. He has the added concern about Mom’s health and her increasing forgetfulness. There is double grief for him as he sees her gradually slipping away. When they had an accident recently, he berated himself repeatedly, and to add insult to injury, he had to take his driver’s test again, both written and driving. He passed with flying colors, and I think he was quite relieved, at least he sounded that way when I spoke with him on the evening of the day he took the test.
What bothers me is that all four of us children and our families are trying to honor Mom and Dad to the best of our ability. But we don’t seem to have the same idea about how that works. There seems to be the idea that we all have to do the same thing, but I keep wondering why we just don’t do what we think is the right thing for us. I really dislike dissention over this, and I feel like it puts Mom and Dad (especially Dad) in an awkward position. Dad is an intelligent, knowledgable, thought-filled man who studies things to make a decision. He isn’t at a point where we need to make decisions for him, so how can we honor where he is and let him make those decisions? I believe that we all want what is best for them.
At this point, I’ve said what I needed to say and now I’m just waiting to see if there will be fall-out or silence. In our family, silence is the usual response, meaning anger, disappointment, let-down, and disapproval.
It is what it is, and I’m working very hard at staying in a non-anxious place, which doesn’t come easily for me. What I keep reminding myself to do is to breathe deeply, remember to honor where Mom and Dad are, and to love my family in spite of the tensions that come up.
May God bless us all and help us to listen to each other and let go of the things we can’t control. Amen.
“Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. . . you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.” Psalm 139:1-2, 13
It’s interesting to reflect on turning sixty years old. I don’t feel like I’m any age, really. As long as I can remember, there hasn’t been an age that I’ve reached when I felt traumatized or upset, and sixty is no different.
However, I definitely feel wiser as I age, and the wisdom – I believe – comes from “being known” and loved by God all my life, from the time I was in my mother’s womb. God loved me then and continues to love me through every part of my life. I wish others could believe that and live it. There are many who do, but so many doubt.
Verse 7 of this Psalm says, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” It is comforting to me to know that I’m not alone on this journey and that God has been, is, and will continue to be part of my life – forever! Trusting that is maybe the hardest thing we have to do. When life hands us so many reasons not to trust, how do we trust in something or Someone we can’t see, can’t hear directly, or don’t have any tangible handles to grab onto?
Maybe we’re looking too hard. The presence of God is within us through the spark of the divine: the image of God in which we were made. If we are made in God’s image, then we have a connection to God, and we should stop looking for interaction from outside and seek to connect within. In one of the many books I’ve read along the way, I remember reading something about wanting to know the will of God, but not being sure how to figure it out. The author suggested that we check our “peace levels.” Are we at peace about our decision? Are we at peace with ourselves about how we interact and behave with others? Can we say that we are reflecting the image of God to others so God is working through us? I think these are important questions to ask ourselves. That is where prayer comes in, as well.
Recently, I had the question posed from someone in one of the congregations about whether or not it was all right to call me at home in the afternoons. I have thought about this a lot over the last few days since the question was asked, and, even though I really don’t have a problem with people calling me at home if it’s important or an emergency, I find that there are some interesting things to consider.
1. I’m not at home that much!
2. When I AM at home, it’s a break between morning office hours and some other work-related activity, and I often use that time to pray and have quiet time so I can refresh and renew my energy levels because inevitably I have to go out at night for a meeting somewhere.
3. I really grab onto that quiet time to spend with God, and I really NEED it.
That was pretty much my answer, and I pray that people will respect my quiet time. It might be tempting to say, “Well, she’s only praying.” But the more interruptions I have, the less time I have to spend building my trust with God and clinging to the strength that I can gather from that trust. I also have to trust the people in the congregations to use their common sense, and, for the most part, they have been very respectful of my at home time.
So, turning sixty has increased my reflections and ponderings. It has also brought a new sense of happy anticipation for the year when I can retire or at least do half time church work. I’m getting tired and feeling beat up at the moment – all the more reason to trust the one who is with me all the time and who has known me since I was conceived.
Thanks be to God whose love is large and wide and deep enough to include even me.