Above my desk is an art piece created by my friend Diane Prentice. It’s about choices and their direct affect on others. That tied in this morning with what I saw on the Bible app on my phone. Every morning I click on this app to hear someone read a daily Bible verse. Afterward three choices appear for a selection. Usually it’s easy for me to select one. This morning I could not choose one, for all three need my attention, and they connect with my husband.
- “I can ask God to help me see people the way He sees them.”
- “I can encourage people around me.”
- “I can take care of someone going through a difficult time.”
First, I need help in seeing Bill as God sees him. The hardest distinction for me is to react to the disease of dementia and not to Bill, a person made in God’s image.
Second, Bill needs encouragement on a daily basis. He finds it hard to express himself in a slipping-away vocabulary. Family members, especially his wife, can replace his uncertainty with encouragement, words that affirm him. It’s too easy to mock him, expressing impatience. But helping with affirmation is the positive reaction. Just this morning he couldn’t find his wallet and handkerchief he keeps in the back pockets of his jeans. Not that he’ll need them; it’s just a habit left over from daily leaving the house for work. Bill did not say “wallet” but patted his back pockets and looked absentmindedly. So I got the point, did not dismiss it, and we headed to the bedroom where the search ended with finding the lost in a pair of jeans in the dirty clothes hamper. Bill’s face reflected delight.
Third, and a twist on our relationship with caregiving. Usually when talking about our situation, the word “difficult” is used by friends, but they refer to my job as caregiver. This choice on the Bible app reversed the emphasis to the one being cared for. Yes, Bill is the one “going through a difficult time.” And it’s time for me to apply that properly. Seeing my husband as the “victim,” so to speak, will turn my attention to him and not keep it for myself. It’s caregiving at its best.
Making the choice for all three options will affect others, especially Bill.