Whoa! I need some sympathy here. (Sympathy…not pity, okay?)
On September 28th my step-father passed away suddenly. I got the call around 4:30 while I was out with a friend celebrating her birthday. Neighbors of my folks were calling and trying to reach me! I hadn’t heard my phone in the noisy room where I was playing. Neither had I heard the phone when I was out on the mini golf course. The neighbors reached my husband and he called the gal I was with.
Handsome and I rushed to my mother’s side, took care of her needs and I left Mom with Handsome and I went to the hospital to be with my step-pop. I arrived while the emergency room staff was working hard to save his life. By the time I arrived they had diagnosed the source of the problem. He had an abdominal aortic aneurysm which had ruptured and he was in very grave danger. A few moments later he was taken to surgery where they sealed off the bleeding but he was not able to be revived. He died on the table…and the life of my family changed.
I am a chick who is in full-time ministry primarily to Christians who are looking for help to change unwanted relationships and behaviors. This activity of serving is what I have defined as my “calling” for a very long time. In a similar way, I have also had something of an “identity” attached to what I do. (Hey men, that isn’t always just a man-thing.)
My step-father has been both the lover and full-time caregiver of my mother whose disability truly is dis-ability. She is unable to do for herself at all. So, what is to be done must be done for her.
The same evening that S/Pop died everyone began to ask, “What’s going to happen with your mother?” “What are you going to do?”
Good question. Stupid question, really, but I understood that they were concerned. It’s just that I was en route to my Mom’s house to tell her that her husband had died and I ONLY knew what I would be doing that night.
So, it is has 3-weeks.
I asked the LORD the other day if He had something to tell me regarding the decisions our family faces. Within a few moments several things came to mind. I think He was speaking.
“Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” (James 1:27)
I’m also reminded here that the Isaiah 58 discussion of the fasting the LORD delights in is the pouring out of charity (love) rather than some sort of self-abasement. In 58:7 it speaks:
7 Share your food with hungry people.
Provide homeless people with a place to stay.
Give naked people clothes to wear.
Provide for the needs of your own family. (NIV Reader’s Version)
7Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house–when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? (Amplified Bible)
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (New Living Translation)
These ideas blow my mind. First, I think that Isaiah’s discussion is mainly that the outworking of true “religion” is to live it among the most helpless who have nothing in defense of their own interests. However, the fact that it actually says to not hide yourself from your own flesh (or, flesh and blood in some) it seems to speak directly to my situation.
So many goodhearted folks have said that nobody would expect me to “give up [my] life and just take care of her.” Still, it seems totally hypocritical to say, “No, Mom. You get a nursing home because there are so many others who have a need and THEY really need me.”
Truly, three weeks is a short span of time. I have no idea what the long-term cost to my husband and I will be. It will mean vacating our home and moving in with Mom. Then we face decisions about selling or renting. It means a really big loss of freedom for me on a daily basis and for our marriage and its formerly footloose, newlywed ways. It means taking on a VERY physical daily routine and dealing with the many physical needs of my mom. It means a drastic change in my career and what my daily life has been.
As things adjust and I find the resources we all need, I expect I’ll be able to return to some level of ministry outside of the home. Or, I might find ways to do it from the home. Until then, I welcome your words and your prayers.
Oh, and it turns out that I like Martha Stewart’s show AND could probably get hooked on All My Children. (Why did the tornado hit only those starring on the show? I mean, tornadoes are strange, but really!)