By Debbie Daigler
My siblings and I have been taking turns taking care of my mother who has dementia. We have had to adjust and learn new ways of caring for her as the disease progresses. Along with the memory loss come other symptoms: moodiness, sudden irritability, and a sensitivity to cold, heat, and loud noises.
It is the negative disposition that gets to me most. For the most part, I tend to want to please people, and while growing up, this applied most especially to my parents. Having someone upset with me greatly upsets me, so I often try to avoid having that happen.
And so it was that I was taking care of her the other day, doing the dishes after dinner. Apparently, I clanged the pots and pans a bit too loudly and Mom suddenly exclaimed, “What are you DOING?!” in a tone that came out as if I was committing the worst of sins.
After the initial shock reminiscent of when I was a child and she caught me up to no good, I took an emotional step back and thought to myself, I’m not doing anything wrong. In fact, I’m helping her; I’m doing something good.
The thought occurred to me: Isn’t this like how it is sometimes in the Christian life? We may be doing something good and right, be completely in God’s Will, but someone else who doesn’t understand might come against us with an attitude that says, “What are you DOING?!”
The SOLCM spirituality has taught me to surrender to my crosses and look at negative situations more objectively. What is God teaching me in this moment? Perhaps God is training me to be unrattled in just such a situation; to not let it bother me when someone is upset with me for doing what God wants me to be doing.
What else might God be teaching me in this moment? Perhaps that my trait of not wanting to upset people – often used for good – might also be used by the evil one to create a fear within me that is unnecessary – a fear of upsetting people, even when I am doing something good. How often do I avoid doing what I should just so I don’t upset someone else? Sins of omission are created this way.
I have long overcome the fetters of caring what people think about my Christian beliefs, no matter what cultural fad comes along. I occasionally still deal with questions from extended family about my Catholicism – and still ask for courage for that – another example of uninformed people asking, “What are you doing?!” And now, as a society member, there is another step – Do I risk sharing what SOLCM has done for my prayer life? Teach others the tools of prayer I have learned? What will they think of me? Will they ask, “What are you doing?!”
As with all “stones unturned” that we find within ourselves, we turn the knowledge of our weaknesses into prayer:
Heroically Generous Father, help me to overcome my weaknesses, lack of courage and propensity to fear, and grant me the graces I need to overcome these to the extent that I need. Grant me the grace to remain calm in the face of questions; to go on doing what is right and good no matter what; and to overcome all points of attack that keep me from doing Your Will with confidence. At the same time, keep me spiritually little, meek and humble of heart, trusting in You, and willing to serve my neighbor with a loving heart. Amen.
“So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Timothy 1:8)