Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Circle of Life

Life is a circle. We start out as babies, totally dependent on the ones we love for every little thing in life, and in many cases that is the way we end up, totally dependent on others to help us with just the very basics of life.

I don't think that God wires us to be self-sufficient from the time we are conceived until the time we die. We start out our life wired to our mothers through the umbilical cord, wired to our parents and other loved ones in our younger years before we head out into the world. And then, as we move into adulthood, I believe we need to be wired to God Almighty and to remain in fellowship with family and other believers. He made us, He knows every hair on our heads, and every thought (good and bad) that we have. Only He can help us in all the stages of our life, start to finish. Only He will never leave us in our times of trouble and times of trial. And we will all have them, that is for sure.

I'm up in TN right now visiting with my family. I just came home from seeing my little great nephew Mason, with his little sweet face and adorable little actions delighting everyone in the room. What a precious child he is. I just want to eat him up he's so cute. A few days ago, I spent some time with my other great niece and nephew Ava and Blake, and we were running around chasing slinkys and talking about using the sidewalk chalk I brought Ava to draw on her driveway. Blake had just lost his first tooth and he was prouding smiling at me with his adorable little glasses and a hole in his lower teeth. He and Ava are also a couple of little dolls. I love to see these little ones, they  help me remember what life is all about.

But earlier this afternoon, I went and visited my folks, which are both in a nursing home now. Boy, it's so terribly hard to see them like this. So weak, so tired and worn out. They are both totally dependent on others to take care of all their basic necessities each day, and that must be a humbling experience for them. My Dad has always been so strong and vital, and my Mom was always a fashionista, with her beautiful hair and nails and jewelry. They were always so independent and totally self-sufficient.

But now, all that is stripped away, and we are at the other end of the spectrum of life, with us worrying about the very basics of keeping them alive, making sure they eat enough protein and drink enough liquids so they don't get dehydrated. It's amazing how quickly things can change. Just a few short years ago we were going places together, to the mall, out to dinner, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed and looking forward to my trips up here to see them.

Now they are both invalids. My two brothers, God Bless them both, live nearby and have to deal with this on an ongoing basis. I admire their courage and tenacity. It is so hard to walk into that room and look at them like that. Everything in me wants to pull them out of those beds and shake them and make them get well again. But I can't do that. Their earthly bodies are dying, as we all are slowly dying each day, their's is just more obvious to see and is happening more quickly. When you live far away and don't see them everyday it's really easy to see the deterioration in them.

I've seen both extremes of this life circle during my brief visit here and it's made me really stop and think about how short our life is on this earth--it goes by pretty darn fast. The longer I live, the more I realize that. We turn around and it seems all of a sudden, we're getting older and our kids are getting older.

That's why I think it's vital to put your trust in something other than yourself while you're making this journey. If you depend on YOU, during this whole time here on earth, you got trouble staring you right in your face. As my husband likes to say, "There is a God, it ain't me-- and it ain't you either." Thank the Lord, cause I sure don't want to lean on me, as the end gets closer.
So, how do you spend your time with your parents when you know if may be the last time you see them since you live so far away? Of course, none of us knows the number of our days, but I can read the handwriting on the wall and I can see that the clock is winding down for them. I will be leaving for home on Tuesday, knowing that our time together was altogether too short, and the words between us were never enough. I will hug them extra tight, I will read them their favorite Bible verses, and tell them what great parents they were, we can talk about some of the stupid things I did as a kid and laugh about it now. Reminiscing is always a favorite way to spend the time, but it just doesn't feel like enough.

It will never feel like I've done enough for them, said enough to them, asked them enough of the tough questions that only parents can answer. Our time together has NOT been long enough, no matter when the end comes. You only have one set of parents, and when you lose them, that's it--the end of that chapter in your life.

In closing let me say that if you have your parents nearby tonight, hug them alittle tighter, or if not, give them a phone call and tell them how much you love them, because you don't know how long you will have that priviledge. Time marches on, as my Dad always says, and the Circle of Life continues, we are born and then we die. Nothing can stop it or slow it, it's coming and it is what it is.

My verses for today are some of my Dad's favorites from the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 - verses 1-4

"To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
  A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap,
  A time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.
  A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord:

It's so incredibly hard to watch my parents have to go through these difficult times in life. They've always been so healthy and vibrant and engaged in life. Now they are getting more and more lifeless each day and going downhill so quickly. Please Jesus, help them, comfort them, hold them close to you during this time. Give all of us, their family, your peace that surpasses all understanding, which guards our hearts in Christ Jesus.

Amen and Amen.