Mine is a bespectacled family. All of us have contact lenses, glasses, or both. We need them. We can’t see clearly without them. Whether we’re nearsighted or farsighted, if we don’t wear them, our sight is blurry and our perspective is off.
When we moved my Father into Fountainview Center for Alzheimer’s, everything was copiously labeled: shirts, pants, shorts, shoes, pajamas, slippers, sweatshirts, socks. You name it, we labeled it…except for his eyeglasses. (Those slipped my mind. Whoops!) And for the first couple of months, Dad wore them without fail. But things have a way of going missing in nursing homes. There are residents who like to wander into any room, pick up pictures, stuffed animals, dentures, etc. and put them in another room. For weeks, the staff looked for Dad’s glasses, but to no avail. We finally ordered him another pair and until they came in, we made sure to lean down and get close to his face so he could see us.
Whether you wear glasses, contact lenses or have 20/20 vision, we all have our own perspective on things. We see people a certain way ~ (‘He is so nice!’ or ‘She is a pain in the rear!’) We view circumstances a specific way ~ (‘My income has fallen off because of COVID.’ or ‘This is a challenge, but things are going to get better!’) We even see illness a certain way ~ (‘I’m going to fight this disease and beat it!’ or ‘I’m done. I’ll just let nature take its course.’)
Societies as a whole also have a perspective on things. For example, we subconsciously write off nursing homes residents. ‘That’s where people go to die.’ ‘Nursing homes are depressing and gloomy and the sooner a resident dies, the better.’
If anyone stands up to those statements, we see that person as special or gifted, like a Florence Nightingale of nurses or a Mary Poppins of caregivers. We hold them in high esteem and see them as uniquely gifted to work with nursing home residents.
Now I’ll be the first to laud the praises of men and women who’ve given their lives to help the elderly, the disadvantaged and the terminally ill. But instead of just corralling these people into a saintly circle, maybe they’re seeing something we need to see.
Maybe we’re the ones who need a different perspective.
When I moved my Father into Fountainview, I was struck with a profound sense of grief and despair. I believed God had provided and I knew this was the best place for him. But it was foreign to him. It was foreign to me. I cried for days. It wasn’t just that I was missing my Father, I was missing my 10-year role of making his atmosphere as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
I knew such grief wasn’t meant for my shoulders, so I kept giving it over to God. But it had settled over me like a dense fog. So I shared my heart with a friend at church who is also a caregiver and was blown away with what she shared and how she prayed. She reminded me that God’s plans were to prosper my Father, not to harm him, to give him hope (not despair) and a future.
God had not placed my Father in a perpetual time out because of dementia. God still had dreams for my Father. His body may have Alzheimer’s, but his soul does not. And God can use my Father to be a source of joy in that nursing home.
Nothing is impossible for God! He is not limited by whatever abilities my Father has lost.
If God can feed millions with manna from heaven and water from a rock,
if He can part the Red Sea,
if He can use a boy to slay a 9-ft giant with nothing but a pebble,
if He can make a donkey speak,
if He can breathe life into a valley of dry bones,
if He can make the deaf hear, the blind see, and the lame walk,
if He can raise the dead,
if He can rescue captives from prison,
if He can place the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead within us…
then God can use my Father right where he is to fill the atmosphere with joy.
The grief and despair I’d struggled with for days immediately vanished and my heart was filled with hope! Just as it was necessary to bend down and get in my Father’s face when his glasses went missing so he could see me, God had to get in my face so I could see truth up close and personal. I gave Him my filthy eyeglasses that were heavy on my face, and He exchanged them with a new pair that allowed me to see His perspective on my Father’s situation.
As a caregiver, I’m learning that what God has to say about us is much more important than what other people say or even how we feel. Yes, my Father has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home. But the Bible says my Father is more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). He is the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). He is the victor and not a victim (I John 5:4). He is a blessing and not a burden (Isaiah 43:4).
Truth demands a response. It isn’t enough just to accept it or reject it. We must rigorously attach our faith to it.
It is my responsibility to keep reading what the Bible says about my Father and his situation, believing it and speaking it out loud every single day. If I fail to do this, then basically I’m refusing to wear the spectacles God has given me, which leaves me with blurry vision and opens me up to depression, despair and unnecessary pain.
Truth doesn’t just demand my response. It demands your response too. No matter what you’re going through, do yourself a favor and lay aside your perspective and seek out what God has to say about you and your situation in His Word. Immerse yourself in it, read it over and over, combine your faith with it and say it out loud every day. It will change your life. I know because it’s changing mine.