Caring for aging parents is a constant tug of war of emotions as well as mental and physical strain. The endurance needed to stay balanced and not be pulled face down to the ground time after time seems insurmountable. The unexpected phone calls that pierce through the stillness of my house at odd times of the day literally make my heart stop. The question that immediately forms in my mind is whether it is mom or dad calling and are they okay. The adrenaline rush shocks my system into immediate awareness. The feelings are a surprise each time and they never feel old or expected in the midst of my day.
The last several years have been filled with moments like these. I would like to think that I have learned to adjust and accept each heart-stopping moment, but I continue to develop gradually throughout this process. These experiences have been an integral part of my journey to grace. The blessing is how God has shown up each time to remind me to turn to Him and move through this struggle in a way that honors my parents and God.
As I received one of these phone calls several weeks ago and I heard my 91 year old dad’s voice saying “we kind of have an emergency here”, the rush of emotions was so overwhelming that my first reaction was to sit down and weep. Knowing that this was not an option, I listened to what my dad was saying and started to problem solve how to best help in this situation. It is in these split second moments that God literally lifts me up off the proverbial floor of “I can’t possibly do this” to moving forward into action.
Even in these heightened moments of fear, I am reminded to slow down. It sounds contradictory when in reality you need to make split second decisions but the urgency should be replaced by making time for God. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10. Turn to the Great Provider and let Him steer your actions.
Two things occurred right as I was grabbing my purse and car keys that centered me and encouraged me that “God’s got this”. First my son asked if he could pray for me which absolutely slowed down my rapid heart beat and then he suggested I listen to a CD that he had just given me while I was driving to my mom and dad’s place. Both calmed my fears enough for me to focus, drive rationally and successfully assist my mom and dad.
The lesson of God’s grace is in the journey of continually turning to Him throughout all the challenges and blessings that come your way. The lesson unfolds as we slow down and remember that urgency should bring about a stillness to allow God’s voice to penetrate through the fear or uncertainty. Ann Voskamp says this best in her “One Thousand Gifts” devotional: “Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow… Is this the secret that all life experts know? That in Christ, the most urgent means slow. That in Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence. That in Christ, time is not running out. In Christ, we fill – gaining time.” When we put our problems in God’s hands, he puts His peace in our hearts. May God always be our focus and fill our hearts and minds at all times.
Psalm 46 1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.