Thursday, May 26, 2016

All Of A Piece

I often talk about seasons of life. While it's true life changes as more years stretch out behind us than lie ahead, I'm beginning to think it's all a part of one piece - all the different patches sewn together by one common thread. Some bright and cheerful, others marred by tiny holes and tears and somber colors. It is the common thread that holds it all together.

When our homes are filled with the noise and weariness and laughter of children, we may look longingly at that patch that looks so perfectly put together - the one with the empty nest crafted into the center. We imagine it, after we get over the unexpected sorrow of all the good-byes, a time when we can finally do all the things we dreamed of.

I find it seldom works out that way. Just when we think it can be a little bit more about "us" there may come unexpected illness, grandchildren that need care, financial reverses, adult children who need to come home for a time - any number of things that change the look of that imagined patch. So we make the necessary alterations and make room for the new pattern. Surely, we think, the time is coming when life will resolve itself into a peaceful flow of days. A "season" when I can embrace those long-held dreams. And perhaps that day comes, and you settle in - only to discover there are new things, elderly parents for instance, which now require your care.

We are working that little "patch" these days - watching with sorrow as my Mom and Dad slip slowly away. For my Dad it is the physical problems. Every time the phone rings into the darkness my heart begins to pound. We have made so many trips to the ER in the past few years - spent so many days in hospital rooms - seen the decline of this once vibrant man.

A few years ago my Mom began repeating herself - speaking the same things over and over again within a short span of time. We pretended not to notice. A mild stroke this past November accelerated the loss of memory and added a frustrating (for her) confusion. We cannot talk about things we will do in a couple of days. She can't seem to process them - or remember what we've said. I don't think it would be as heartbreaking if she didn't understand what is happening. So often she looks at me with eyes brimming and says, "Linda, I'm losing it." I can only smile and squeeze her hand. Scant reassurance.

Yesterday, while we were visiting, she mentioned the difficulty she's having writing out checks and keeping track of the account balance. She misplaced her glasses weeks ago. While waiting for an appointment, she used her old pair - but then those went missing as well. She couldn't get an appointment until next week (no such thing as a quick appointment these days) - so she's struggling.

I offered to do the checks for her. "Don't you have all of your own things to do? I don't want to burden you with this." After assuring her it wouldn't be any trouble at all, we sat together at their little table and took care of the few bills. It took us a while to get things sorted out - she is forever organizing and reorganizing her paperwork - but within a short time we were done.

Again, the tears. She is so grateful for every little thing we do, and so apologetic for being a "burden." No amount of reassurance changes it. No telling how much we love her and are glad to do whatever we can. No telling it is no trouble at all. No amount of thanking her for all she has done for me my entire life. I imagine I will feel the same one day.

I've been thinking about all of the dreaming and planning and the way things have a way of forming their own pattern despite all of that. And I wonder if that hasn't been the Master Plan all along. It's true the Lord created us with dreams and plans, but I think nothing is more important in the grand design than the relationships He places in our lives.

They are what hold the whole piece together - the strong thread that ties and puts everything in place. They are what give it shape and strength. I see, with eyes of my heart, the Lord using the people he places in our lives to accomplish His purposes in us - to make a beautiful whole out of all the parts.

What we see as interruptions, frustrations, and unwanted changes are the very things that will, in time, make all those dreams come true. The piece may look a bit different than the one we imagined, but in the long-run it will be one that brings more fulfillment and joy than we could possibly have dreamed.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"The Lord will work out His plans for my life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever…"
  Psalm 138:8