“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
When we moved my mom into a memory-care facility in early January, we chose a brand-new facility: clean, efficient, cheerful, great staff, with two enclosed atriums. While we were pleased with the facility and we knew that we could no longer adequately care for Mom ourselves, I had the over-arching feeling that I had let my mom down.
Now, five months down the road, I see things in a different light. I have learned that her new home is not a place to grow worse and die—it is just a new chapter of life—one in which she has acquired a much larger family and that family has embraced her and they have also embraced me.
As in any family, there are good days and bad and each person in the family has his or her own idiosyncrasies. There’s Rebecca who spends her time rearranging the furniture, another woman who yells in Italian, another who talks to her toy dog, Cal the cowboy and resident Casanova, and my mom, aka: Cal’s girlfriend who believes that she and Warren Buffett and Paul McCartney are lunch buddies.
But of all the residents there, the most notable is Nelsba. Nelsba, a devout Christian, is a high-functioning resident who says that this home is her ministry and that’s why she is there. She routinely looks after the others, guides them, holds their hands, calms them down, reassures them, and listens. At suppertime, she sets the table for the others and they all feel her love. It is a humbling experience to see her in action.
In the short time I have known her, I have grown to love Nelsba and I listen attentively to the lessons she lives out daily. Just a few of those lessons include:
- This life is crazy—and sometimes messy, dirty and stinky—so get used to it.
- Give unconditional love—even when you know the situation will not improve.
- Give yourself in service—regardless of your circumstance.
- Consider all human life sacred.
- Don’t judge yourself or anyone else too hard.
- Help to uplift others spirits.
- Listen – even when what’s being said doesn’t make sense.
- Show respect to all and be kind.
And last but not least…
- Make sure that everyone has an opportunity to hear the gospel message.