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“I hate you!”
“You hate me!”
“Who are you? I don’t know you!”
Those are some of the worst words we, as caregivers, can hear. If we have children, we may well have heard the first two statements before, either when our kids were throwing their 4 year old tantrums, or occasionally when they were throwing their teen tantrums. For those of us in the Baby Boomer Generation, however, most of us have seen our kids outgrow those phases. We never expected to hear those words again, and certainly not from beloved moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, or other dear aging relatives! But it does happen. Not to all of us. But some of us will go through the dark shadow of a loved one -whether due to medication issues, dementia, or other illness – challenging us with words of dislike, hate, or not even knowing us.
It’s hard! It can seem impossible to deal with. But we keep on going, one foot in front of the other, step by step. For those of us who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we will often find it is a time when we will grow stronger in our relationship with Him, as we lean harder on Him, unable to deal with these pressures alone.
I went through a time like this many years ago, when a sweet and loving relative of mine looked at me with such dislike, hatred, and fear. For weeks I was sure that was all I would ever again see as this beloved person was so ill. I clung to my Lord harder than ever, praying, reading God’s Word in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and feeling so lost and lonely even though surrounded by others who cared deeply for me. I am so grateful that I only had to go through it for a relatively short time period. Eventually the doctors figured out a combination of medications that worked better for my beloved relative. The joy and relief I felt when I once more saw love and concern in those eyes stays with me even now!
I remembered that time today, as I was listening to a sermon on Ephesians 1. The pastor was describing, in wonderful detail, all the heavenly blessings that God has poured out upon His children. As he listed each thing, one in particular caught my ear.
Through Christ, we have the power to love those who hate us!
I realized that I had, indeed, seen that proven out during that dark period with my sweet relative. Even though we know, as caregivers, that our parents, relatives, or other patients, don’t “mean” the unkind, rude, hateful things they may say, it still sends a burning arrow of pain through our hearts. But through the power of Jesus Christ, we can continue to love them, continue to care for them, and continue to minister to them, even if it goes for a prolonged period of time. Not because we are so powerful. But because God is so powerful. I pray these words will bless you as much as they did me, both then and now:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him…I…do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph. 1:3-4, 15-23 (NASB)