Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Image by --Tico-- via Flickr
2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”.
This is a powerful verse for me and has become even more so after the teachings of Pastor Ron. When he asked his series of questions I instantly went back to my days with my father from the beginning of his transformation: “Is your conscience clear? Do you love the Lord with all of your heart? If so, what is your motive? Do you want to serve others through the gifts He has given to you? Why do you want to do that? If you had to choose between a need for personal significance, what people think of you, and God’s will for you and others, what would be the REASON for your actions?” (http://fridaystudy.org/html/2timothy/2timothy1.htm)
Why had I been there for my dad? Why was I carrying for him and putting so many things aside? Was I truly acting from a pure spirit and selfless nature or was I doing so for “personal significance?” (Pastor Ron's sermon from above). I had always remembered me as selfless, but maybe not, maybe there was more there that I was not looking into. I started to remember some of the resentment that I went through as well. Maybe I just was not as selfless after all.
Once my father transitioned into a Quad he and I would speak quite frequently about being Christian and what that meant. He had developed a new love and faith in the Lord, one you can read about in his story http://www.fridaystudy.org/html/luke/luke11_1.htm and I had been going to church since I graduated high school. My family did not grow up going to church but we were not atheists either. We grew up camping and being outdoors, appreciating nature, learning appreciation of the world and all its might from parents that believed in the soul and spirit, but not a formal religion. I had and still have a weak sense of the Bible in that I am unable to recite scripture at will. However, I have always felt connected deeply to Christ while in prayer and in my actions through life. So, I had some to contribute to our long talks, but he always taught me more.
As the years went on I felt my care for my father was truly selfless and I was serving through the abilities God had given me. People would comment on my selfless care for my father and were more impressed when they discovered my age. My father would teach me His word and relate our particular lives through that topic of the day. He would reassure me I was following a path filled with the love of the Lord, but in the back of my head, deep down buried as I did not want anyone to find out, I felt doubt. Was I really serving the Lord, or was I trying to run the world? Was I trying to fix my father, keep him safe and happy, all the while proving to everyone what an amazing human being I was? Or was I merely doing the work of a servant, graciously and with all the skills He had given me?
Now as I relive these memories, truthfully, I know a good portion of my actions were for those praises I received. I was so accustomed to being the center of attention, the praise I received all my life for being the best in whatever I did, whether that was sports, racing my RC car, music or school, I was always the top.
Overworking myself all those years made me resentful of my father at times and I regret those emotions. Instead of doing what I could do with the abilities God gave me, I tried to muscle in even more and I know it was for the praise and recognition, not the love I got from Him, serving Him and living His word. I was trying to counteract what was set in motion by Him. I was trying to SAVE my father, instead of letting the Lord do His magic. I was keeping my father in a safe and loving place; at least I felt it was me and my duty alone.
As I know now and after studying my life motives through hose trying years, if I had put more faith in God’s love and less trust in myself, I would have been a better servant and able to provide more for my father. God has a plan, He has a life for us all and no human can change that. It was my desire to change this plan God had chosen that created the resentment and guilt in my heart. I knew I was unsuccessful in my drive, therefore the self doubt and resentment started in on me.
I have since been comforted by my readings of Psalm 75 (NIV – New International Version, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+75&version=NIV):
1 We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. 2 You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.”
6 No one from the East or the West or from the Desert can exalt a man. 7But it is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.
9 As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God Jacob.
It is futile to dwell on the “what if’s”, you need not read this to learn that lesson. However, as a learned historian, if we do not study our past we will be destined to repeat it. Mostly we learn this on a much larger scale, in government and in Nations, but we must think to apply this process to our own lives. I have put my faith in the Lord and I act accordingly, at least to the best of my humanly controlled ability. My dad would pray for me to do so and that is how I choose to live now. But that does not change the struggles that come at me.
When serving a Quad these challenges are immense and it becomes near impossible at best, much like serving the Lord. The doubt you will poor on your heart, the contemplation you will make before every life decision, will be difficult. How is it fair I am going to do this while they are stuck in bed? Am I doing enough? Did I make the right decision for them? If I leave now, they will be alone the rest of the day, how can I do that? Am I getting enough for him/her today? Have I checked to make sure they are comfortable enough today? The list will continue on and on.
These are impossible questions with difficult answers, but think of hat in which God asks of you every day? Are your actions to show your love of God? Are you acting in His word? Do you love the Lord with all of your heart? Do you love others as you love yourself, no matter what condition the relationship is in? The questions continue and the demand is high, you would go insane knowing the failures you had every day, but God’s love is huge, so you are forgiven every minute and after every failure, after all we are simply human. But imagine if we could all love that same way, you would never feel the sting of guilt and you would act in as much purity as humanly possible in every decision and in every occasion.
In reading from a post Jessica made in our site http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Living-with-a-Quadriplegic/129886597053877?ref=ts she had written “I do all of his care and I do not work. I get burned out quickly but as of now we wouldn’t have things any other way. Sometimes I am depressed because I feel like I am not doing enough or I can do better. It is a position that is emotionally and physically draining. I love my husband with all that I am…” I am saddened. Here is a woman that is giving all that she has, sure some days might have more in them then others, but her heart is for her husband and she gives the love her all. She continued to make another all too common comment I have heard over the years, commenting on her situation being one that “sometimes [makes] you feel very alone.”
This is what we are here for, love. God has given us the ability to love and wants us to love each other. Here is a woman trying her best with the gifts she has received from Him and yet she is feeling alone at times and defeated. I relate. I have been there and it hurts. While my father was not my husband, I had much pain in the self generated thoughts of being alone or not doing enough for him. While there were supposed places to turn to, there never really seemed to be when I looked.
What I know now, I wish I could have given to myself then, when my father was alive. My father always knew I was doing what I could and never made me feel guilty if I was not with him as much that week. He would always tell me what he loved of me, what my time with him meant and what my actions I did on his behalf would do for him. It was me putting the guilt on and I now believe it is from a personal attribute of acting too many times from a secular benefit, rather from the gifts I have been given from Him, our Lord and Savior.