In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. --- Rom 8:28
Taken in isolation, the passage has always seemed so naïve, such a statement of privilege. Have all thing worked for the good of those who love Lord if they happened to be Tutsis in Rwanda 1994, who happened to be tortured in Uzbekistan, or who happened to be abused as children?
And how about me? Are all things working together for me? Well, maybe. I refuse to accept the straightforward implication as most people understand if. But, in my case, it seems to be doing just that, working together. For those who have to just watch me deteriorate, no, it’s not working together. But for myself … well, it just may be.
This diagnosis has brought me much deeper into my relationships with all sorts of other people. It’s certainly been true for Marja and me but also, so far, for our kids and for the few close friends I’ve told.
Marja has mentioned several times that we have so much to be grateful for in our lives. And she is speaking in the context of this disease, too. Other than my depression, our lives have been charmed, without significant suffering. In terms of our external lives, we could have asked for nothing more. Our marriage has been loving and supportive for both of both of us and we have become even closer with age. Our children are great gifts. As adults they have become good friends to us and to each other. (We actively enjoy being together). They lead happy and productive lives. Both Marja and I have been able to spend our adult and professional lives, doing what we most wanted to do yet earn enough money and be appreciated. We have a community. And the list goes on.
All of those have pure grace and, although I previously found gratitude hard to come by, we were at least aware of the gift. Part of that lack of gratitude has been that I’ve always put myself in the place of never being satisfied with myself. I can’t rest on my laurels; I need to be doing something now! The judgment inherent in that has made gratitude hard to come by. But now I’ve been freed from the need to be doing something more. I can rest on my laurels. I can look back and be grateful. The Alzheimer’s has given me much freedom from “shoulds.”
Even the things that would seem to drive me away from God haven’t. I am certainly declining in my mental functioning. I’m becoming more confused and frustrated by not being able to do the more complicated tasks of my life. I know I still have gifts that others don’t and that people still depend on me for things, but the circle is tightening. Paradoxically, however, the freedom to let those things go, to loosen commitments has been positive … for which, again, I’m grateful.