Over the last six years, I have watched Alzheimer’s narrow my mother-in-law’s world.
She used to travel with her husband. Then that became too much. Soon after that we had the conversation about no more driving. Now, she walks to the dining room and back to her room. Her current travel is limited to church on Sunday and that takes most of her energy for the week.
She used to live in a house in a town she loved and served. Then she moved to a small apartment. She downsized, again, to a little room with a kitchenette. Now, she lives in a room the size of a dorm room. Last week she told me she was going to quit school and go home.
She used to read. She subscribed to three newspapers and a couple of magazines and countless publications that came with membership in various organizations. There was little that happened in her hometown or in her state that slipped her notice. When we moved her to her current location, Paul continued two of the newspapers and a magazine. She now opens the newspaper merely out of habit.
The reading she does most often is on a white board that sits on the floor by the television she rarely turns on anymore. The words are a list that she used to find comforting, but now she reads repetitively:
You live at the Arbors.
Your teeth are at the nurse’s station.
Marx passed away in 2011 – Ed and Molly are gone, too.
You need to use your walker.
You are retired. No meetings!!!
Her world is now very small, very quiet, and a bit lonely.
There are people in her world. Friends come to visit. Attentive caregivers and family are in and out of her room. Occasionally, a cat tiptoes in, curling up in her lap.
Her world is not lonely because it lacks people. It is lonely because of her lack of awareness. A lack of awareness so complete that she will inquire about the cat not even realizing it purrs under her resting hand. When her son comes to visit, she looks at him with astonishment and asks, “How did you know where to find me?”
It is not a brain-wasting disease that causes my world to narrow. It is, in fact, my selfishness, my arrogance, my sin that makes my world all about “me.”
My world narrows as I focus on my needs and wants. It narrows as I focus on my expectations of how things “should” be and how reality falls sadly short of those expectations.
As I narrow my focus in such a way, I lose sight of the world around me. I no longer see the good I could be doing. I no longer see the need of my neighbor. I no longer seek God’s wisdom in His word.
I must be repetitively reminded of my sin and of the forgiveness offered by my God.
My God, on the other hand, is all-knowing:
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
He knows everything about us:
The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. Psalm 33: 13-15, ESV
He knows our sins; even our silent sins:
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Matthew 9:4, ESV
He loves us nonetheless.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5: 8, ESV
Our awareness is a gift from God. We know we are His child. We know He forgives us. We know He fills us with His Spirit. Our awareness is faith.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5, ESV
Dorris' lack of awareness is not of her making. Her disease is responsible, but disease cannot change her heavenly Father’s awareness of her.
We know so little in comparison to God. We know we have the gift of faith. God knows the rest.
Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Psalm 88:12, ESV
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