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Posts Tagged ‘boasting’


In the past my experience with Alzheimer’s has been minimal. There is a Deacon Emeritus in our congregation who suffers from it. I did not have the honor of knowing him before this illness began to take its toll on him. While I felt bad for him and his family, I didn’t have much personal investment, so to speak.

At some point in the last few years I noticed that my mother was losing track of things. Her short term memory was becoming non-existent. She was faking conversations to cover up the pain and frustration she felt (or so I imagine). My father tried to eliminate every possible source of the problem.

Last fall she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I had seen her in the summer but still didn’t realize how bad it was by the fall. There were benefits, so to speak. She no longer obsessed over her health, recounting every pain and problem. Perhaps, in a sense, that was a strange mercy for her (and us).

I was prepared for the worst when I saw her this summer. Or so I thought. I was prepared for to not recognize me. She thought I was one of my father’s friends. I thought I handled it well.

I must give kudos to my Dad. He’s doing a great job with her. She looks well-cared for, and he was patient with her while we were out to eat (and she kept trying to order different meals). It has to be a great strain on him. She calls him “the Boss” which leads me to believe she doesn’t really know who he is either. That has to break his heart, but he continues to care for her.

I must admit that I don’t do “sad” very well. I tend to stuff those feelings deep inside. I hate the sense of powerlessness. I hate the reality of what produces it. I’m angrier than usual, and have a short fuse. Anger seems easier than sadness. At least for me, but not for anyone around me.

Eventually the sadness catches up to me, I just don’t know when it will happen.

What is it like to have a mother with Alzheimer’s? It is like she has vanished. There is someone walking around who looks like my Mom, but really isn’t. There is no warmth, no “glad to see you.” There is no delight in my kids as cherished grandchildren. It is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She has been replaced with a person who doesn’t respond like she did, act like she did or share a common history.

I’m not really sure what to do with that. I’m not angry with God as if this shouldn’t happen in a world filled with sin and misery. I’m angry because I can’t fix it. I can’t make it better for my Dad. Yet, like most people, I have and hate that sense of our powerlessness and weakness.

Yet that weakness is everywhere right now. I feel weak as a parent trying to raise four kids. Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by their needs, their sin and their foolishness. I feel weak as a pastor in the midst of a renovation project that seems to produce an unforeseen crisis (costing more money we don’t really have) each week. Weak as I try to manage church conflict and miss friends who have moved away. I see those empty seats where a few families used to sit and wish we could have another meal together.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12

I hate my weakness. Instead of boasting in my weakness and boasting in the power of Christ (whose power is made perfect in my weakness) I rage. Stupid, I know. Foolish, indeed. An act of unbelief.

But nothing can change the fact that my mother is gone, and I can’t say ‘good-bye.’ There is the sense of loss, but no opportunity to say ‘good-bye’ unless I manufacture one. But then I will see the person who looks and sounds like her.

In the months and years to come I will learn more about this disease and its effects on families, on the soul. I’m not really looking forward to that. There will be things that I wish I could forget.

This morning I read some Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the subject of trials. I know God is using this to develop patience in me (Romans 5; James 1). This means He has to reveal the impatience in me- the impatience that drives my anger. It is a painful process and an ugly process. But the result will be good. He will hang on to me, so to speak, through the process

In the midst of all of this I am reminded of the final recorded words of John Newton: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.” May I never forget these two things.

 

 

 

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In the past week speech and rhetoric has become a hot topic.  Like many people, I’ve been sitting and soaking it all in.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of the knee jerk reaction, as many have.

On the one hand, many have blamed the current political climate for the shootings in Tucson.  Thankfully, after 5 days of hearing this the President rightfully said such speech is not to blame for the actions of the shooter.  What is odd to me is that those making such charges were blind to their own use (or that of others sharing their political views) of such rhetoric.  Too many times I heard and seen “XXXXXX’s don’t talk like that.”  The internet is full of examples of people from both sides of the political spectrum talking just like that.  Our inner Pharisees were working overtime!

Sadly, the President, in calling for “healing speech” didn’t disavow his own documented use of such rhetoric.  Such would be the move of a great leader, acknowledging his own failings even as he calls all of us to a better, higher standard.

At the same time, the New York Jets seem to be living in a bubble.  Their coach is an inflammatory quote machine.  His arrogance, not to be confused with confidence, is astounding as he apparently has knowledge of what happens when other teams and their players prepare for a game.  He also, apparently, knows what people say behind closed doors.

But worse than his arrogance (which is pretty bad since God opposes the proud) is the verbal attacks of Antonio Cromartie.  He doesn’t have to like Tom Brady.  He doesn’t have to shower Brady with man love.  But his choice of words denies Brady’s dignity as made in the image of God, and is abusive.  It is the “rotten speech” of which Paul warned in Ephesians.  It is the same root from which all the political rhetoric has blossomed.

Here is where I see idolatry at work.  When your allegiance to a team doesn’t allow you to see their guilt in a matter, it is idolatrous.  When SpyGate erupted, I did not condone the actions of the Patriots.  But I put it in context as well, since this seemed to be a fairly common practice (sort like the steroid era).  The Patriots “only” got caught because then Jets’ coach Eric Mangini wanted a competitive edge.  He most likely engaged in that practice while a member of the Patriots’ coaching staff.  [The lack of impact on the game was revealed by the Patriots finishing that regular season undefeated.]

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