My dad lives with me. He’s kind of a miserable old guy who lives in a wheel chair or in his bed. He has no hobbies or friends. He just watches TV, sleeps and coughs. He makes sure he gets his daily dose of worry-inducing, fear-laced television news casts with all their hopeless stories and gory details to ensure that his mental illness and hypertension don’t start to accidentally improve. He has a giant cancerous tumour in his left lung that was easily treatable four years ago, but he chose not to help himself.
It’s one thing to spend a little time here and there with people that are down and out. It’s a completely different thing to live with one 24/7. I can literally ‘feel’ when dad is out of his room and moving about on the main floor of the home (I can smell it too, but TMI). It’s like there’s a palpable cloud of depression hanging in the air where ever he is.
So how is this uplifting? Good question! I’ve been working on this for 7 years now. I keep asking God, “How do I keep my thoughts mindful and positive when I keep seeing and feeling my dad’s misery every single day of my life without a break?!”
Ask and ye shall be given…
It’s not that I hear God audibly or anything, but I get these inspired thoughts that I know can’t be mine. So here’s the answer that came, “Stop seeing and feeling your dad’s misery.”
What the…? Seriously, God? You mean I need to take 100% responsibility for what I’m seeing and feeling even though this guy is such a crankpot and in my face all the time?!
“That’s not fair! I can’t not see (and smell) what’s right in front of me! It’s his fault. He chose this path. I just got stuck with him because nobody else would do the job! Really? This is stupid. I want out. I’m going to drop him off at the doorstep of the hospital and then move to a different house so they can’t send him back. I don’t deserve this. He’s the one who’s been a jerk. I’ve just tried to be nice and kind and guess what, God? I’m burned out. I’m gonna quit!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played that script in my head, but I’ve tried it enough times to know that it won’t get me off the hook of being 100% responsible for my own perceptions, attitudes and decisions. Wait, did I just say ‘perceptions’? Yes, I did.
I remember the first time my counsellor challenged my ‘perceptions’. I was livid. How could it be that being mistreated and hurt by someone was all my perception??
Now for a little news flash: Your flesh/ego can’t fix its own perceptions. Case closed. Changing perceptions is a God thing and all you can do is surrender to the process and allow the shift to take place. It happens at the level of the soul. Simple, not easy.
However, taking responsibility for myself means not only relying on Holy Spirit guidance to shift my perceptions, it also means making the hard choices and sticking to them. Setting a standard and living by it.
I know my time of care-giving for my father is coming to a close. These years have been extraordinarily challenging, but they have also been one of the biggest gifts of my life. My father has shown me more about myself then anyone else. This situation has inspired me to be more loving, more kind, take responsibility for myself, strive to achieve goals and breakthroughs and to never, never, never give up no matter how hard the journey.
You will be given beauty for ashes.