Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rock-hard days between Mizpah and Shen...

"Will I ever be normal again?"

That question won't leave me. Mom asked it.

For those of you who don't know, mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January 2010, two months after falling and shattering her hip. She is still in complete denial about the Alzheimer's diagnosis--she blames her memory lapses on the numerous mini strokes she's had--no matter how many times I try to explain to her that the strokes were in the area of her brain that controls balance, not memory.

And, even after often-ugly conversations designed to "help" mom see how her definition of "normal" causes her to make damaging choices, I still went there. I still tried to answer her question, "Will I ever be normal again?"

"Mom, it depends on how you define normal. If normal is being able to live alone and drive a car and be independent, then, no, you're not ever going to be normal again. I love you too much to lie to you. But if you can somehow see normal as being given another day to be grateful, and to try to bless those people whom God brings into your life, then you can have a pretty good normal."

And, as He tends to do, right there the Holy Spirit used my words to show me my often ungrateful self. To show me that I have high expectations about this thing called normal. For me, other words for normal could be entitled or expectations.

In fact, a sense of entitlement has defined most of my Christian journey. For so many years, I lived by the belief that, if I believed the "right" things, did the "right" things, made the "right" choices, then God would clear my path of any obstacles, and this journey home would be smooth sailing.

So, imagine my offended surprise when life didn't work out that way.

If the struggles of the past three years are teaching me anything, it is this:
There are no guarantees. Life is sometimes rock hard.
People you love deeply will sometimes leave.
Others will disappoint you.
And, right there, in the midst of all that grief and disappointment,
there will be days when you feel as if God Himself has left, has disappointed.
And, right there, the decision has to be made, "Am I still going to trust Him?
Am I still going to believe, even though the bottom of "normal" has fallen out, that He loves me and that He means it when He says, "I will never leave you or forsake you" ?
Am I still going to love Him back?...Even if nothing changes, even if my most desperate prayers are not answered, even if my expectations are disappointed...
Is He enough?"

Honestly, there have been days when my heart didn't have the answer to that question. Oh, I knew what the "right" response "should" be. But I'm tired of the "shoulds." Too much of my life has been about the "shoulds."

But, He has brought me to this day.
He has placed people in my life who love me in spite of myself.
He has answered prayers, some of which I only see in the "looking back".
He is slowly teaching me to throw my self-conceived ideas of "normal" out the window.
And, He alone has placed this flicker of desire for the answer to be "YES!" to His question "Am I enough?"
"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen,
and called its name Ebenezer, saying,
'Thus far the LORD has helped us'.”
(1 Samuel 7:12, NKJV)
If you have time, read 1 Samuel 7, to get the battle-filled background of this verse.
Today, there's only one question:
How has God been your Ebenezer throughout your journey with and toward Him?
(Please feel free to share your own story of His faithfulness even during those rock-hard times of life.)


  1. As we have traveled this road with our parents together, I hit a rock bottom place during the Holidays....when we are supposed to be close to family, and I found myself feeling all alone. I was in a church service, singing praises, with tears running down my eyes.....not tears of joy, but tears of lonliness. (It is sad that Bob had gotten used to asking me if I had my tissues with me before each service). Evidently, I wasn't listening to the words that I was singing, but was deep in my own little world. I was not praising God as I should have been doing, but was asking Him how I had gotten into this mess..... and God came to me with a wonderful thought....I sat down in the pew, pulled out my Journal, and wrote down these words: "My God is enough for me". I can only try to be enough for Him.....but it gives me great comfort to know, deep inside, that My God is, and always will be, enough for me. I hang on these words each day now, they give me great strength and peace.....

  2. What comfort and courage your words give to me, sweet friend.
    Our God IS enough!
    (But, I'm also glad He's placed us together on this journey.)