It was yet another trip to the emergency room.
My mom had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for many years, so trips to the ER were not uncommon. A blocked carotid artery, a broken hip, and depression had sent her there on multiple occasions. I was very fortunate in that I had two sisters, Barb and Annette, to share the responsibilities of caring for her. But there was plenty of responsibility to go around.
My Dad had also been fighting lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. The surgery to remove the brain tumor along with the follow-up treatment had aged and weakened him dramatically. He could no longer drive. He who had been the strong one as Mom deteriorated now needed our help, too.
Doctor visits. Money management. Overseeing help in their home. We were now parenting our parents.
Because of that, my sisters and I had grown to dread that middle-of-the-night phone call that would alert us to a new crisis. This time Mom had developed an infection that caused disorientation and hallucinations.
After the doctor sedated Mom to give her relief, Barb and Annette went home. It was my turn to stay with her until she was moved to her room.
So I began to pray, and in my fatigue and my sorrow, these were my words: “Father, isn’t it time for Mom to come home to You? Why are You keeping her here? She’s sick. She’s scared. And she can’t do anything for herself!”
I cannot explain how I heard His response. It wasn’t audible. But it was very clear.
“How dare you!” His voice thundered in my heart.
“Your mom does not have worth because of anything she does or does not do. Her life has worth because she was made in My image, and I said so!”
Oh…of course. The tumult in my heart stilled. Because, as always, He was right. Realizing that truth, I called my attitude what it was--sin.
My life, your life, is not measured by what we accomplish, or what we don’t. It has worth because each of us is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and we have purpose and will remain on this earth until the Lord Himself calls us home.
As I thought about it more, I realized something else: Mom was actually doing a lot! Maybe not in and of herself, but because of her struggles my sisters and I had changed. Our hearts softened as we watched her decline. Loving her without expectations came a bit easier, and compassion deepened as she grew weaker. We rejoiced when we would see a spark of her old self, and grieve when her confusion caused her to think my Dad a stranger who had invaded their home. She taught us to rely on Jesus in new ways: we needed His strength, His wisdom, His perseverance, and His peace. Especially when we grew tired. Mom could not give us what she always had: support, encouragement, and affirmation. It was our turn to give it to her.
I look back now, and am so grateful for the extra time I had with my mom. My sisters and I are not the same because of it. She influenced us until the day she died, because she had great worth in Your eyes.
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
- Describe a time you assigned worth based on what a person accomplishes.
- Have you ever felt that your own worth was defined by your accomplishments?
- How is your perspective on this different from God’s?
Father, You see things differently. You alone give us worth; thank You that it isn’t based on what we accomplish, but it is rooted in our image-bearing soul. Teach me to rest in Your unchanging perspective.