by Kathy Collard Miller
For two-and-a-half years, my mother-in-law, Audrey, lived with us. Audrey suffered from Lewy-Body Dementia which caused her to be paranoid and have delusions and hallucinations. It was a difficult time where Larry and I learned to slow down our reactions, develop greater selflessness, and work through what was really motivating us.
I remember one morning when Audrey was eating her bran cereal. Every morning I had to soak the cereal in milk for at least thirty minutes to make it soft. Audrey said to me, “There are rocks in my cereal. I know you’re trying to kill me.”
I could feel the hair on the back of my neck begin to rise. But I prayed quickly, “Lord, this is my old pattern of wanting to be approved and not wanting to be seen as undependable. I’m going to pause because I know in Christ I am dependable, loved, and approved.”
Audrey mumbled something else, and then said, “And I wish you’d do a better job of it.” Of course, she meant that I should make her cereal without rocks. But the juxtaposition was funny. I should do a better job of killing her? I stifled a laugh and wasn’t upset—for once!
Another morning she shuffled down the hall toward me exclaiming, “Don’t lie to me, you attacked me last night!” Oh! Being called a liar is one of my hot buttons. I so wanted to be mean in return, but I again slowed down my reaction and prayed, asking God to help me see myself as he sees me—as a daughter of the King. The Lord gave me compassion for Audrey who was also a daughter of the King, who at present was mentally influenced by dementia. Her words didn’t bother me in the least.
I definitely could see God was doing a work of spiritual growth within me, and how the frequency of my unloving reactions had diminished over time.
A few years later, I became the primary caregiver for my own mother. What I learned during the time I cared for my mother-in-law has empowered me to love my own mother better. At times I’m still tempted to react in my old ways, but I’m not sinfully reacting as much as I did even with Audrey.
My spiritual growth in this area did not happen quickly. That kind of progress comes through yielding to the Holy Spirit one situation at a time. As we ask for guidance and strength for a godly reaction to difficult people, God provides. And as He does, He changes our hearts to be more like His.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” Romans 8:28-29a NASB
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller has been a writer and speaker for over 40 years which surprises her since she doesn’t feel old enough. But God has opened doors for seeing over 50 of her books published and speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Connect with her at: KathyCollardMiller.com.
Join the conversation: In what ways has God been growing you lately?