When the Kansas City Chiefs squared off against their opponent in the third quarter of Super Bowl LIV, things weren’t going very well. Although tied at half time, the San Francisco 49er’s came back to score a field goal and a touchdown, making the score 20-10. But then something happened. With less than 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs came back with three touchdowns to win their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
We’re in the fourth quarter of 2020 and I’ll admit that as a caregiver, there are times I feel beaten down. Like Alzheimer’s has picked up the ball, run it in for a touchdown and I’m left scratching my head and looking at the clock. COVID shuts down our much-beloved Grace Arbor in March and people across the country with dementia, including my Father, regress. Touchdown Alzheimer’s. Thanks to a COVID grant and generous donor support, my Father begins attending Peachtree Christian Health in September, giving him invaluable social interaction and much-needed respite for me and Mom. Touchdown God. In November, my Father is combative with me for the very first time in an angry outburst. Touchdown Alzheimer’s. In December, he all but loses the ability to feed himself with an eating utensil and we must begin feeding him. Touchdown Alzheimer’s. With the increased meds to dispel his anger, my Father is more lethargic and difficult to maneuver, so that I’m struggling to lift a 165 lb. ragdoll. Touchdown Alzheimer’s.
When you hear the words “nursing home”, you typically cringe, flinch or try to think of something else. You envision a sad lot of elderly people living in a depressing, understaffed facility that smells like urine. You think of residents’ belongings being stolen and employees passing through a revolving door. It is not a place you want to be. It is not a place you want anyone to be.
But what do you do when more than 9 years as a caregiver have left you physically, emotionally, financially and psychologically spent? You have no choice but to consider putting your loved one in a facility. If my parents had a considerable nest egg or long-term care insurance, this wouldn’t be a problem. But like many Americans, they didn’t plan on needing thousands and thousands of dollars for an assisted living facility with memory care. And as if that weren’t enough, they didn’t anticipate a pandemic that would keep families from visiting their loved ones in facilities or cause elderly deaths to surge.
It’s the fourth quarter and the scoreboard says I’m losing. We’re in the final days of 2020 and we need to quickly find a safe place for my Father. I need a touchdown. I need three touchdowns. I need God to come through in the final hour like He has so many times before.
I need Him to part the Red Sea while the enemy is madly pursuing me so that I can cross to the other side and watch my foe drown.
I need Him to infuse me with boldness so that I can race toward the front line and kill the 9’9” giant.
I need Him to open my eyes like He opened Elisha’s servant’s eyes so he could see the vast army of horses and chariots of fire descending upon the enemy.
I need Him to beckon me out of the boat and walk on water as long as I keep my eyes on Him and not my circumstances.
I need Him to send an earthquake to break open my chains and shackles as I sing praises to Him so I can escape my captors.
I need Him.
And I have Him. I am His daughter, and He will fight for me. But besides believing He will make a way, there is something else I need to do. I must make room for Him to move.
I have to let go of my preconceived ideas and fears about facilities. I have to let go of the fear that once my Father enters a facility, I will never see him again. I have to let go of daily taking care of him. I have to let go of the ‘what if’s?’ I have to let go of the fear of loss.
I cannot expect God to move if I keep holding on. I cannot make room for the new year, a new chapter of my life or new opportunities until I relinquish control of everything I’m holding onto. I need to only hold onto Him.
It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says. He will win. He always wins. He will give my family what we need. He will provide care for my Father. And He will be there on the day my Father moves in and my heart wants to break into a million pieces. He will surround me with His love and faithfulness.
And as the clock winds down and I wait for those touchdowns, my job is clear. I will hold onto Him and expect the unexpected. I will anticipate it and watch for it and thank Him before I see it.
And I will celebrate His win. And since I am His daughter, it’s also my win.