Spiritual Alzheimer’s

I hope you enjoy being reminded of the power of the Gospel.

Today I am posting a guest post written by my husband, Daniel Mullaney.

 

Waking up this morning was a slow process. I had many thoughts of despair. This can be a regular morning thing for me at times. To reference the movie with Bill Murray, it is like a spiritual “Groundhog’s day”. I wake up, and am faced with having to do it all again. I must once again surrender to God and ask for His strength to get through the day. The emotions are so heavy that it seems they have actual weight to them. “Oh God I am struggling to just get out of bed. I wanna just stay here. I don’t wanna do life today. Lord I feel so far away from you. I am so neglectful of you so often that I think you are too far away for me. I can’t do it Lord”. I turn on an old episode of some trivial show on my iPad as I lie there in bed internally knowing this is not a good solution to my woes. A few minutes into the episode, the bell goes off. This means Joan is awake. Gotta go reorient her! I can get down stairs before she even gets out of the door because it opens into the room and she has to back up with her walker after opening the door, before she can get out of her bedroom! Hmmm… a mistake? Or a blessing? I jump out of bed thinking how it doesn’t matter what I think, Catherine is not home and Joan needs assistance, so go help. I thank God… slightly… that I am being forced to forget about myself. Self-forgetfulness is a gift from God. Nothing good ever came from always thinking about myself. Being of service to others is such a key to a joyful existence. To be a tool in God’s hands is a great calling/privilege. I forget that this is what I am sometimes. Where would Joan be without me or Catherine? While she may be in a facility, we would miss out on the joy of being a part of her journey on to glory. She is a forgotten person. Not many people in the world care at all about her existence. I think these are the people God cares the most about; the forgotten, the invalid, those incapable of caring for themselves.  

Anyway, back to me and my despair. My heart is just aching about how disconnected I feel from God, from others, from myself. I reorient her and get her settled in her chair as I make her coffee and English muffin. I read her my morning devotion which closes with; “…On this day, I will remember that humility keeps me grounded and on an equal footing with those around me.”  I don’t have to be “greater than” to have value… Hmm…Ok, so be humble, Joan and I are on equal footing. I know that I have embraced the thought that I have spiritual Alzheimer’s. Joan has actual Alzheimer’s and mine is spiritual. Just like she needs reorientation that she is in a safe place and being watched over, I need to be reminded that God is watching over me and has not forgotten me, I am safe. He is in complete control. It shakes me how often I feel alone and that God is not with me.

Next we go to John chapter 2. I read her the whole chapter. She says,” that was nice. What book is that”? I tell her it’s the Bible and she tells me she liked those stories. It contains the story of the wedding at Cana and the story of getting the money changers cleared from the temple. After that I sang “Come Thou Fount of every Blessing”. Then I told her the backstory of, “It is Well with my Soul” and sang that too. “Wow”, she said, “that was lovely”. She is always thankful to be sung to.  

We left the house 30 minutes later and I dropped her off at Summit. I am still struggling with a feeling of uselessness and self-pity. I find myself singing a hymn in my head while simultaneously feeling despair. The thought occurs to me that maybe I should listen to some hymns. I put in my AirPods and turn on my iTunes. I should pick some christian music was my thought. Instead I decided to hit shuffle. Once again not the best choice. I love to shuffle my music. Well, Amy Grant’s version of My Jesus I love thee comes on, followed by Bob Dylan’s Pressing On, then… because it is on shuffle, a recording of myself reciting Luke chapter 15 comes up! After this a song from the play Celestial City comes on called Life. By this time, I am at Nu Cafe to meet Mike as the Eagles “Take it to the Limit” comes on. I am halfway through the song when I get my coffee, turn it off and sit down with Mike. The only reason I am even going to see him is because we bought him a T-shirt in TN from a coffee shop called Mad Priest. He likes the T-shirt and says how is it going?  I start to tell him about the day and the despair I began with. I actually was still feeling quite a bit of hopelessness. In fact I spoke with Catherine after dropping Joan off and we talked about the reentry process after being away all weekend. I realised that I had shut down emotionally. I don’t tell myself to do that, I just do it. So I was telling Mike about this and how I am no longer comfortable with this shutting down emotionally deal; my growth is slow. How I think it’s God making me unhappy with being shut down. That being in despair in the morning is a sign of growth. That I used to feel kind of confident in my own abilities to DO life. Now after all these years, I know that I am incapable of doing life as I know it. I have reached a point of understanding that in and of myself, I get in the way and that the answer is not to do life on my power but that I need God’s power to even get out of bed!

First, Mike mentioned to me what a great Hymn God brought me on the iPhone. The words in the song that say if ever I loved thee My Jesus tis now! I think I felt an inner love flowing when I told Mike about reading John chapter 2 to Joan. I am sincere in telling you that I did not put together any thoughts of God being involved in my morning up to this point. The only thing I felt that was right was to call Catherine and tell her how I was feeling and she encouraged me to just be. To not try and figure out how to feel better or anything, but to just be gentle with myself and allow myself to just feel in a funk. As Mike began to recall things to me of how John 2 talks about the good wine being saved for the last. I felt something. I do not know when God is speaking to me. I just know sometimes I have an emotion inside that I now trust as coming from the Holy Spirit. I say this knowing it could just be me manufacturing these things. So I sense inside me that God has been guiding me all along this morning. Amy Grant’s song led into Pressing On. This is what I must do each day. I must press on. The chorus says, “pressing on… on and on and on and on…Pressing on, to a higher calling of my Lord”. Oh yes that was what I needed to hear. And then the song from the play. The words are, “…to go back is death and destruction, for me to go forward is everlasting life! My hand is to the plow, I can never go back, I must follow that shining light and seek the deliverance I lack! LIFE… what am I after…

Wow! I am now seeing God was telling me something through the songs that the shuffle was playing! Now Mike’s words spark an inner voice… perhaps the Holy Spirit? The best wine was saved for the end of the feast. It is no secret that I am on the back nine of life. “Dan-I have wonderful love in store for you! I have saved the best wine for the end! You have no idea the joy ahead of you…” but I do! I had to contain myself or I was gonna cry right there! It was an overwhelming presence inside of me. Can God really care this much about me? That he will love me enough to put together a montage of songs and written words to show me how He is in total control and has not let go of me even for a moment? That helping Joan is part of saving me from myself? Can I believe this? Who am I to think God cares THAT much about me personally? Isn’t that egotistical? Could God be telling me that my new morning song is: to take it to the limit, take it to the limit, take it to the limit…. One more time?

I’d like to say I have the answer, but I don’t. I do not want to live in a delusional existence where I “think” God is doing something and i fool myself into believing it. I want to live in the truth. The feelings inside of me are real. I am a feelings type of person. My wife is a facts type of person. I believe God contains both feelings and facts. I cannot say it is a fact that God loves me that much, but it sure feels that way!

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Published by: Catherine Mullaney

First and foremost, I am a child of the Living God who is found as One God in Three persons, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I have been married to the same man for over 25 years, together we have three adult children. I love my family and God’s and I know that both are trying to love me. Over my lifetime, I hope that I have also been a good friend, faithful citizen of the Kingdom, thoughtful, kind, open, and that I will continue to do so by God’s grace. If you were to look at my weekly calendar, you might describe my life as diverse so no one can stick me in the Christian box or the recovery box or any box for that matter. People don’t belong in boxes anyway. I am grateful to be human. I enjoy living in New England. I love a great game of golf, catching a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, a good book, to write with pen and paper, fruitful conversations, to sing and dance, to walk. One of my signatures in this life is my laugh and I love to “sign.”

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