On living in a house of cards in a hurricane

BVN Article

Sunday 02 July

I like to think I have things pretty much sorted. I have (in no particular order) a big job, young adult children, elderly parents, pets,  a husband, a house and a huge garden. There’s always a lot to be done and with a bit of juggling and a lot of hard work and help it generally works out OK. I’m guessing that describes many of us in our lives. We are resilient and resourceful and reasonably in control. Until we aren’t.

Sometimes it takes only one element of the complex structure of our lives to be disturbed for the whole thing to come down like a house of cards in a hurricane. I’m just experiencing this with the sudden hospitalisation of my father leaving my mother, who has dementia and needs 24/7 help in an extremely vulnerable position. Suddenly everything is up in the air whirling uncontrollably while the vulnerable person takes central priority. Some of you will know what I’m talking about here. Caring for someone with dementia in a crisis situation where the floor has just fallen out of their life is unbelievably tough and brings out the best and the worst in us- and the worst is shame-inducing.

For you the game-changer may not be being thrust suddenly into the position of carer-in-chief. It might be a diagnosis of illness or bad news or a family bust-up or unemployment or bereavement. Suddenly we are no longer in anything resembling control and all we can do is find coping strategies and manage as well as we can. And then generates another hurricane- this time of emotions. Anger, grief, guilt, resentment, exhaustion, stress adding yet more unpredictability to what was once a sorted life. If this has never happened to you then you are truly blessed. Most of us experience dollops of it several times in our lives and it is frightening how fast things start to fall apart.

How we deal with it varies. Gale force 10 situations can capsize and drown us or throw us onto dry land and a new way forward. They tend to either batter faith in God to a pulp or make it incredibly strong. I’ve been through seriously difficult times in which I discarded God and others in which I hung on to him like a limpet. And all I can say is that I’d rather be in the position I’m in now with him than without him. I’d rather believe that he knows and supports and loves me through this than do it all in my own strength. I’d rather judge my conduct towards my mother by His standards than by my own emotions and I’d rather have a sense of this mess in the context of a bigger, more complex narrative of hope than get sucked into a personal whirlpool of despair.

That’s my choice. Not to deal with this just in my own strength but to be carried through by the God I love and serve.  It may not be your choice right now but it is available for the asking. Always. 

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