When “what we want” does not match “what we need”

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I’d like to begin this morning by talking about how I find the scripture passages that usually accompany my posts. I refuse to play the “open the Bible and see where I land” game, closing my eyes and poking a finger at random into the text! Instead I consider what Rebekah and I have already been reading in our morning devotions, I research words and ideas that have been surfacing in my contemplation, I reflect on some of the Bible passages that are so familiar to me they shape the bedrock of my thinking, and I look to see what the scriptures say about ideas I have already been forming for my latest post.

Today, for example, I knew I wanted to write an update on my parents’ situation, and so I used the concordance to find references that dovetailed with ideas such as “rest”, “peace”, and “safety”. I read through a list of around 30 scriptures before settling on the above text from Philippians.

Then, when I went into BibleGateway.com to copy and paste, I saw the exact same passage listed as today’s “verse of the day.” It was as if God was confirming my selection.

Peace and Rest:

There are a lot of things I could do for my parents. One would be to make sure they have everything they want. Another possibility could be to agree with all their ideas, and make things happen according to their wishes…

But that would not necessarily be prudent, or practical, or safe, or helpful in terms of their primary needs, which are for safety, and rest, and peace.

I am (and this is not what anyone really sees coming as their parents begin to outlive things like their health, their ability to think with clarity, and even the limitations of their resources) responsible now for my mum and dad’s wellbeing. And when their longterm wellbeing does not match what they want/wish/desire in the day-to-day, then somebody has to make choices that lead toward safety, and rest, and peace.

This is important: Safety. Rest. Peace.

At the moment, dad’s safety and rest require the help of the assisted living facility. At the same time, the long-term viability of their resources means that mum is still living next door, visiting dad once or twice a day.

What they want is to be together, and they don’t care if it is practical or not! I understand and I respect their point of view; but here – and this helps me – is the Math. The equation** (DN + ML + DL + AL + COS = AR) does not compute.

So I choose safety for them, and I choose rest, and I choose peace, and I choose the long view. But the peace part is iffy because it is close to impossible for my mother to understand the equation and so she defaults – at the cost of her peace – to “Why can’t we just have someone come in a few hours a day at home?”

And so we have the conversation again. And again. And again.

– writer Derek Maul, enjoying today’s cool morning in Wake Forest

But none of this changes my responsibility. And what is possible is dependent on, well, what is possible.

But I am still exploring, still learning, and still open to the possibilities.

Peace and mercy and grace – DEREK

**Where DN represents “dad’s needs”, ML is “mum’s limitations”, DL is “my limitations”, COS represents “cost of services”, AL translates to “anticipated longevity”, and AR stands for “their available resources”.

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