My mother is noticeably failing now. She used to be practically my personal secretary and domestic advisor. She would call to remind me whose birthday was coming up, and that I should turn the clocks back one hour in the fall. Now she gets confused, and it alarms her.
After her stroke two years ago, they sent the visiting nurses in, and that has been good in some respects, but there is a danger. Too much fussing over Mom's confusion has perhaps reinforced the confusion, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Her self-image is starting to change, as she buys into the identity of herself as no longer competent, and she repeats it to herself like a mantra throughout the day. One can only hear that kind of talk so much before one surrenders to it somewhere in the quiet of one's heart.
While I was praying this morning, I arrived at a new application of faith in God (which is always exciting to me). I realized that it is not necessary to accept, without a fight, the diagnosis of a failing mind. Says who? This afternoon I went to see my mom and said, "Mom, let's fight this thing." I suggested, for starters, that it would be better if she stopped telling herself and me that she is "going downhill." Such talk is negative, and negative talk is incongruous with the Scripture's teaching that our God is the God of the impossible. To speak negatively is to align oneself with the devil's assessment of life, not God's.
My sister had once told me that her elder friend said that when you get stuck in a conversation because you can't remember a word, or the name of a movie star or politician, don't say, "Oh, the heck with it." "Fight for it!" the lady told my sister. Fighting to retrieve that bit of trivia will keep your mind lithe and supple. Do not go gentle into that good night. Give the night a run for its money.
We have more than psychological technique on our side. "Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated" (Deuteronomy 34:7). This is the kind of God we have, a God who makes the shadow climb back up the steps rather than descend. We will get the help we need for Mom. But what is to forbid us from praying creatively, from asking Him for a sound mind? Why should we surrender to a foregone conclusion that does not factor in Jehovah Rapha?