This week I'm in New Jersey, caring for my 91 year old mom so that my care-giver sister can get a much needed break.
Mom has a number of health issues that have caused her to slowly, very slowly, deteriorate. Someone has called this period of life that many of us "baby boomers" face as we care for our aged parents, "The long good-bye." And it certainly is...and it's hard...very hard...and for a number of reasons.
First, of course, is the fact that our beloved one is declining and suffering in the process. That's hard to watch.
And my precious Mommy (as we sibs still call her) is developing backwards, so to speak. She is declining back through the stages of human development, and that's hard! Hard to witness and hard to adjust to, especially relationship-wise.
The child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the child.
It's a privilege in so many ways to be able to "give back" to one who has sacrificed all for us. But for those of us who aren't naturally gifted in the care-giving, serving gifts, it can also be particularly difficult...even humanly speaking, distasteful! For instance, the need to wash and toilet the person goes against most sensibilities, to be perfectly honest!
Well, this week the Lord met me in the hard-ness of the serving. As I was helping my precious mom in her embarrassing needs in the restroom, as my back was hurting and the smells and required care were overwelming, as everything within me was yelling, "This is hard," the Voice that I always long to hear broke through.
You are doing this for Me! I am in your mom! So you are serving ME!
Oh wow, Lord! Of course! You said,
As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers [or sisters], you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40 ESV)
You are doing all this to ME!
I was serving HIM! Yes, the King, the Lord, the Master! Wow, what a privilege... not only to serve my darling mama, but in the serving, to be ministering to my Jesus!
As my heart took this all in, I remembered another time, years ago, when I sacrificially served. It was joyful and hard...very hard...in the same way. But the thing that was especially hard was that I wasn't thanked in any way, though others were.
As I was sitting outside on my porch, "licking my emotional wounds," enjoying the weird "delight" of self-pity ("I can't believe that they didn't even thank me!"), the Voice that I always long to hear broke through,
Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your master. (Matthew 25:23 ESV)
Oh my! I was undone!
HIS "Well Done" was worth it all! Much better than all of the thank you's and recognition on this earth!
So dear friends, members of the sandwich generation caring for beloved aged ones and moms and dads pouring it out for the beloved young ones and everyone else in between, hear this from the Voice that in reality you too always long to hear,
...as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your master.