John is slipping away into a small, safe world we have created in our home. He does not want to leave home now. I had read that those afflicted with Dementia choose to stay in a neighborhood, and then desire only to be in their home, and then eventually in a room. Their world gets smaller, but in the smallness they find safety. Yesterday he spent four hours of the morning playing the same 78 RPM record over and over. I watched as he took it out of the sleeve and placed it on the turntable. When it finished, he would gingerly remove it from the record player, put it in its album cover and set it on the table. Then he would pick up the album, take out the record, and repeat the process, delighting in the songs, as if he had not just heard them all five times already. He is content in our little yellow house, in the big brown chair at the window, doing the same thing over and over again. The Maranatha Singers are singing the Psalms on this old album and it should give me peace too. So, why isn't it? Why is my heart so troubled within me, why am I so filled with a worry, or some sort of menacing fear that won't let go? As the Psalmist says, "Why so downcast O my soul?"
What is this fear anyway, I ask myself, this anxiety that has so tightly gripped me, that follows me around, demanding my attention? I turn and face the fear and look it squarely in the eye. Then I cannot avoid it. It is the worry that I will be imprisoned in these four walls for the rest of my natural life! These same walls that give John peace and safety are crushing and smothering me and I see no way out. The lying spirit tells me that I will have no other life beyond cooking and serving meals to my husband, laundering his clothes and trying desperately all day long, to understand his alphabet soup of words that make no earthly sense. I dare to pray a question to God about all this. "Is it true, Abba? Is there to be no other life for me? "
The light of day has not yet dawned when I ask Him this question this morning. It is dark and still, John is sleeping peacefully in bed, and in the silence I hear the Voice I so long to hear. He whispers, "No. It is not true. It is False Evidence Appearing Real. FEAR. It is a lie to keep you from all peace and joy, to obstruct and overshadow My real plans for your future. So know, this, child. RIGHT NOW you are giving me much glory as you lay down your life for your husband. RIGHT NOW what seems to you to be drudgery and imprisonment is causing angels to applaud and rejoice! And in days to come you will know the rewards of your beautiful service to Me. Look to Me in every moment, every event every happening. I will meet you there. Look for me and find shalom in the little house, in the four walls where you are planted. It is not forever. But one day you will know the perfect work I have done in you there."
A little bubbling of joy comes up from a deep wellspring I had forgotten was there. I pick up the One Thousand Gifts book again and open it randomly. The words on the page say, "Commune with His Presence filling the laundry room, the kitchen, the hospital, the graveyard, the highways and byways and workways, all the blazing starways. His Presence filling me. This is what it means to truly live."
I can go back to the question now and live the answer: Why so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5)
Kelly Ferrari Mills