Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Changing Roles: Grown Children and Their Parents

Changing Roles: Grown Children and Their Parents Part I

If we stop and look at the make-up of today’s world, the fact that there are now more senior aged adults cannot go unnoticed. This trend, will, of course, only increase over time. We must be willing to talk about these difficult subjects and be prepared to make the hard decisions in life with God’s guidance, grace, mercy, and love. Roles can and do change over the moments, even in the blink of an eye. This is a fact. It cannot be escaped.

As some of you know, this is close to our hearts as we have had and continue to live this subject on a daily basis. For whatever the reasons, I was always a daddy’s girl. While he was consistent in reminding me that he was not my real Father… that was/is God, he was the next most important figure in my life until my husband came along. This is not meant in any disrespect to my mother; I will get back to her as this goes along. It is due in part to daddy’s story and ours as to why I was asked to write about this.

My daddy was a real man. He didn’t need others to help him. He was the one that offered the help and would give you the shirt off his back if that was needed. So when Parkinson’s disease and Diabetes came calling on his body, and therefore, his life and ours, the fight for the real man inside of him was at stake. My daddy commanded attention and received it for his mercy and love for Jesus was unending. And yet, being all things human, what the world says comprises a real man lingered in his thoughts and heart as well. It was a struggle until he totally surrendered to God and let go. He gave me permission to share in an effort to help others. That was daddy.

There came a time when the Parkinson’s disease and its affects blinded daddy to the truth of what was happening to him and his body. He could not understand and fully accepted that his need to be able to drive a moving vehicle did not go hand in hand with reality. He could not drive in a straight line. He was, more times than not, unaware of how fast he was driving. He was clocked going 85 in a 35 zone one day on the way to meet us. It was not an emergency situation that was requiring the speed. He simply couldn’t keep his lead foot under control. The only thing that kept him that day from losing his driver’s license was the grace of God and also the fact that the Lord had already been working on our hearts and in our lives.

We wonder at times why we go through the various trials in life that we do. There are moments when they become all too clear and are somewhat explained; most of the time these explanations require us to get out of our comfort zones and truly be laid open to bearing our souls for the sake of others and His kingdom and requires actions not just words. This was our case. This was mine. Like I said before, I was a daddy’s girl. This apple didn’t fall far from the tree or so I’m often told whether for good, bad or even at times downright ugly; truth being told.

In 2005, it became clear after seeking the Lord’s guidance through prayer, conversations between various individuals, that not only was an intervention needed but hard core life changes. This was not merely for the sake of daddy, nor mom, but for others that he might come in contact with as well. This is real life. At times it stinks. At times it hurts. But it is what it is. So, we (my husband, my self and our three sons) gave away or sold almost every single thing we had the blessing of calling ours and walked away from our life as a family of five. We joined our lives with my parents after I had the undeniable privilege of telling them we moving in. Given the fact that I, at one time, my self had been unable to legally drive, daddy knew that I could understand in ways that most might not. Granted, I am a female and not a male, but being like daddy, I too loved to be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle feeling the wind in my hair. Talk about humbling, a sense of humiliation, and a real ego buster. It definitely goes against most individual’s grain.

In comparing our lives and theirs, it was clear that the best decision was to join our lives together in their neck of the woods instead of in the bright city lights we called home. This was where one of the most difficult decisions for us came. G-town was a place where I had said I would never live. It was not my cup of tea. I am and have always been a city girl until God said, “Get your butts to G-town now.” Funny enough, I have come to hold G-town close to my heart, as have my country/city husband and our three city sons. When individuals surrender to the call that God places upon their lives in regards to ministry as a vocation especially, turning backs on family can truly grate one’s very being. How could we say we had surrendered to full-time ministry and say “Sorry, God, you’ve called us to minister to others, family does not count. You can just have someone else’s daughter and son-in-law do that.”

In moving in with daddy (and mom), the roles were definitely in the process of changing. The real man who once didn’t need help, truly started requiring more and more of it as his fight with Parkinson’s and Diabetes grew harder and harder. He was the man of the house, the king of this castle, my husband was not. Yet, over time, what he had once been able to take care of, he no longer could. My husband was given more and more responsibility for the household upkeep and daily running as was I. God called us to serve Him by serving my parents as well as being parents to our three sons and working in and through the local church body. I’ve often been asked why did we become active parts of our church that very weekend we moved in. The answer is simple. Given the fact that we were doing all the driving, we would have been driving them there any way since that is where they had been active for years. We listened to the Spirit’s guidance that our “family” was not to be divided. My husband has been called to pastor. Please do not lose that in translation. He was being a pastor and still is, it is evident in our home and in the lives of our three sons. And yes, even in our marriage. One does not need to stand behind a pulpit to truly fulfill God’s call as a pastor.

More to come. Stay tuned.

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