How would you read the following words, Godisnowhere? Did you read, God is no where, or God is now here? If you’re an atheist, you’ll see God is no-where, and be glad that I finally came to my senses. If you believe in God and were shocked that I would write such a sentence, you probably felt relieved to see the two ways of reading it. In case you wonder, I think that God is always here. Isn’t it funny how two people can read the same book or see the same movie but come to different opinions about it?
Every training for caregivers I’ve seen, always has a section on entering the new reality of the one who has dementia. Again and again we’re taught, that your loved one is not the person you used to know and love. To successfully care for them you must enter their way of seeing things. While I understand the teaching, it is difficult to lay aside how I see things and enter Harriet’s world. Things that she used to love to do, are now not appealing at all. Some things that she used to enjoy watching are now too upsetting.
Last week I went up north to go deer hunting. While I was there, I purchased and watched the movie, I Can Only Imagine. The movie is the true story of Bart Millard, who is the lead singer for the group MercyMe. His career took off after he wrote the song, I Can Only Imagine. I love this song and have used it in many funerals. However, I didn’t expect much out of the movie because I could not imagine how you could make a good movie about writing a song. Wrong again. That movie blew me away. During some of it I was crying like a baby, something that older men tend to do. I thought, “What a great story, Harriet is going to love this movie.”
I got home on Friday and we watched the movie together on Saturday. The story is that, when Bart was a small boy his dad was a monster who attempts to destroy every dream the boy has. Physical and verbal abuse are a daily thing as he grows up. He come home from Summer camp just in time to see a truck pull away with all his mom’s things in it. His mom took off, leaving him alone with his abusive father. I knew Harriet would not like this part of the movie, but I thought the end would make watching this part worth it.
After High School Bart takes off, joins a Christian band and they go from gig to gig as he writes songs and tries to improve his craft. Their manager gets them a chance to perform in Nashville in front of a number of record company executives. Bart is sure this is it, the big time is at hand. However, he is told that while he has talent, he is not ready, not good enough, and may never be good enough. He returns home broken, angry, and sad.
The rest of the movie is about how he and his father are reconciled and after his father’s death he writes, I can only Imagine. If you haven’t seen it, get a copy and watch it. (I got mine at Wal Mart in the $5.00 DVD bin.)
Just like me, Harriet was crying during the movie. I noticed that she wasn’t just weeping but was crying like her best friend had just died. After the movie she continued to cry so I sat down next to her. Being the real sensitive type I asked her, “Didn’t you just love that movie?” “NO! I hated that movie.” She answered. Harriet went on to tell me that she felt so sad that Bart’s father died before Bart’s success. He never heard the wonderful song, never saw him in concert, and never saw his dream come true. In the same way there were so many things she was going to miss, not just because of death, but also the dementia would rob her of the ability to realize what she was seeing.
That was not the response I was expecting. Because I was expecting her to react as she would have before the dementia. I realized that I had not entered her world, I was still living in the past. The movie, instead of blessing her, showed her a bleak, despairing, future. She was focused on this horrible future and the despair told her, “God is No where around. He has abandoned you to a future of despair, dementia, and death” The truth is, God is Now Here, God is the great I AM, the eternal now. When the future becomes today God will still be here because he promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Harriet went on to speak of her sadness that her life had been shortened by this disease. I said to her, “No one really knows how much longer they have to live. The lord may heal you or a cure could be found. Let’s stop looking into the future and just take one day at a time. Do you remember that just before I retired, I told you that I felt the Lord was telling me to take care of you?”
“Yes, and I said, “I’m a pretty independent woman and, with God’s help, I really can take care of myself.”
“That’s right. At that time, we didn’t know about this dementia, but God did. That tells me that God has your back. So why don’t we let God handle the future and we will live for today. That’s what we did out West and it worked really well.”
When we are overwhelmed by disaster, disease, or death it is so easy to feel that God is No Where around. St. Paul writes, “What can separate us from the love of God?’ He goes on to list just about every disaster people face and then concludes, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We prayed together and recommitted ourselves to living one day at a time.
Sometimes I forget that, because of the dementia, everything has changed. I didn’t even think about what message she would get from the movie right now. I was thinking about how she would have felt if she had seen the movie five years ago. I need to attempt to enter into her world everyday, and walk in the new reality we are faced with. I am so grateful that the God who is now here, will help me with this. Please pray, that I will be able to lay aside my ideas and opinions and enter her world.