Invitations to special occasions mean we are welcomed to embrace the milestone moments of those that matter most to us. 2022 was a year of invitations to grandkids’ birthdays, friends’ wedding anniversaries, 60th b-day parties, colleagues’ farewells, opportunities to preach, and the ordination service of a friend we’ve worked and travelled with for over a decade. Jesus offered a personal invitation – come to me.
Looking in the rear-view mirror and capturing what that “Come” has meant in 2022 for our family, distills down to two words— "carefree" and "caregivers".
Two Became Three
In May my 91-year-old mother-in-law fell and broke her neck. Mum lived on her own in the country just outside Truro, Nova Scotia. My wife, Jocelyn travelled home and spent nine, long weeks supporting her in recovery. The experience was the catalyst that moved mum to list her home for sale in August. She called us in September to let us know the house sold and announced she would come to stay with us in St Albert. Jocelyn asked if she meant until Christmas or for good? For good. OK. She sold most of her furniture, the rest was packed in a U-haul, and she moved to Alberta on October 21st. Two became three.
Mum gets all the credit for making a quantum change in her 90's. She moved from living alone in a house her husband built 48 years ago, to confining her private space to an 8 x10 bedroom. She has the run of our home but you can imagine she's not doing much running. Seniors living with a more senior citizen is an interesting arrangement. We’ve been empty nesters for 12 years. Mum has been a widow for two years. That’s long enough to have deeply formed preferences. So, all three of us have had to die to what was and slowly shift to what would be.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, wrote,
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Bonhoeffer explained in detail that this is not, for most Christians, a literal death, but rather a death to self. When we follow Jesus, we choose to die to our selfish desires, our need to win, or our urge to control. We lay down our lives before God so that we might receive them back from him imbued with new purpose and power. To be sure, the call of Jesus to die to ourselves is not an elementary one. Yet in losing our life to Jesus, we end up finding it.
So far we are finding
peace in a shared space. There has been no heartburn over who controls
the TV remote, or sets the thermostat. Mum doesn’t need a lot of care. And we are careful to give each other privacy. Others have shared stories of how they thrived in the same situation.
Jocelyn is the primary caregiver for her mom. This role reversal is an expression of gratitude.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” We live and die indebted to others who deserve our gratitude.
Life is rich. We're grateful to experience Jesus' invitation to come and be carefree caregivers.
There are other Inscribe writers who are caring for elderly parents. What are you learning about yourself and your faith?
Bob Jones writes to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose. You can follow his writing at REVwords.com