…Who Is My Neighbor?

In my previous blog I quoted Mark 12:30-31 where Jesus says to Love God with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus was asked the question in my heading and he came back with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of us have heard this parable and could give a quick synopsis of it, but there are some interesting things that I’ve learned about this parable that brings it right into our time.

Do you know who Samaritans were in Jesus’s day? They were the hated, the outcasts the “dregs” of Jewish society. There was a long history between the Jews and the Samaritans, that will not go into. In the first century, Jews who were traveling from Galilee (where Jesus was based in Capernaum) to Jerusalem, they would go miles out of their way to go around Samaria. It wasn’t considered safe to travel though Samaria.

With this information in mind, let’s look at the rest of the parable. A man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho (about a days walk, through some rough land) and was beaten, stripped of his clothing and robbed of all his possessions. A priest (Jewish priest from the temple) happened by but didn’t stop to help the man. A Levite (a person who served in the temple) passed by but didn’t help the man. Both of these men would have been highly esteemed by the general public in Jesus’s day. They certainly knew of the directives from God to help others that were in trouble. But they didn’t stop. I have read some commentaries regarding this and one thing that they may have been worried about was becoming “unclean”. If a jew happened to get blood on their bodies anywhere they were considered “unclean” and would have to go through the purification process before they could work in the temple. They might have not wanted to “defile” themselves by helping this person.

A Samaritan comes along and “took pity” on the man. He bandaged his wounds (using oil and wine, fairly expensive stuff) and then put the man on his own donkey. Now, think about this; this is a Samaritan with a beat-up Jew on his donkey. He could have been yelled at, or worse, if any one around him saw what he was doing. The man really had no business in helping the hurting man, but helped him anyway.

The Samaritan took the man to an inn and continued to take care of him. Just taking this man to an inn was hard for this man; the inn may have not even served Samaritans. The man needed to continue on his journey and gave the innkeeper “two denarii” to take care of him. A denarius (single) was about one days pay in Jesus’s time, so the man gave the innkeeper about two days pay. Then tells the innkeeper that when he comes back he will reimburse him for any additional charges. The Samaritan not only took care of the man, but paid to have someone to continue to help him. This was out of his pocket with no expectation of return.

We are to be like the Samaritan. Helping others without expecting anything back. Doing good things for others. Going out of our way to help someone. Loving them, regardless of who they are, what they believe or what they look like. This is what “Loving your Neighbor” looks like.

March for Life…

The March for Life was yesterday and it brings about memories of my life. I’ve been through more things then just a caregiver for my husband. As Christians, we are to care about all life and the March for Life and the Women’s March brings out that we are to care for all life.

Back in 2017, I was a part of another blog, the Lutheran Ladies Connection. This is a blog that I posted about the March for Life. We not only have to think about children losing their lives, but what about the women that get sucked into the rhetoric that abortion is OK? What happens to them in the aftermath of taking a life? In my case, I thought my life was over. I had done a horrible thing and I felt that the Lord would never love me again.

As you read this, please think about others in your life who have done horrible things. They deserve our compassion. Yes, they have sinned, but haven’t we all?

To a Fear-Free New Year

My co-workers gave me a birthday card at the end of last year that totally surprised me. As I looked at the front of this card I was so taken back. You can see the card’s cover on this blog. When I saw the card I thought, somebody sees me. The real me that I’m trying to present to the world.

You see, I’ve been trying to be as fearless as possible in this Covid world that we live in. I see so many persons that live in fear now, and it isn’t healthy to live that way. Yes, we can be cautious. Yes, we should be careful, however that looks to you. Wear a mask in public and don’t go to large gatherings if you have reason to fear getting the virus. But you still can’t live in fear. As I have said before in a previous post that I used to be afraid that I would bring home a flu virus to Joseph every flu season because I work at a college and come in contact with students and staff. I’ve had students cough and sneeze while they were talking to me and I’d be so afraid for Joseph. After several years of this I couldn’t stand the strain and put it in God’s hands. Yes, I took precautions. We had a disinfectant spray that I would use after some students, and I always tried to keep my distance, even before this “social distancing” was a thing.

Fear is an internal feeling. No one can make you feel fear, you can get fearful without anyone’s help. We are not to live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I’m definitely trying to live this verse out in my life and it’s wonderful to get confirmation that I’m doing it right!

I’m Sorry…

I’ve really left those of you who have followed me just hanging. It’s been a strange few months and I have been preoccupied with thinking about where I want my life to go. I have retirement coming up and that involves a lot of care and “pre-thought”… I told a friend, it’s like stepping off a cliff! But in the end, you can only do so much planning and the rest has to be left up to God.

I used to be a very bad worrier, always “projecting” the worse thing that could happen. I’m better now than I used to be, but I still find myself all wrapped up in my thoughts and problems and I don’t think about others. In my mind I’m seeing the worst possible scenario and fighting my emotional reactions to them. When Joe was first diagnosed, I almost had an emotional breakdown when I drove past a cemetery and my thought was that I didn’t even have enough money to bury him when he died. He lived sixteen years after that day, so I didn’t have to worry, God knew the future and I didn’t.

Somewhere in those sixteen years, Matthew 6:25-34 became real to me. God knows the future, He knows my situation and He is in control. I would read these words and stand on the promise. He never let me down. I’ve fallen away from this a bit and I’ve resolved to keep these passages in mind when I’m tempted to worry about my future. Look them up the next time you feel a good worry coming on.

Anger and Frustration

What do you do with your anger? Our world has enough stress in it right now, adding caregiving on top of it creates a whole new kind of pressure. I know that I wasn’t the wonderful, kind loving person that the last couple of posts seem to paint me. I got plenty frustrated at Joe and it built into anger.

For example, we went through a lot of health care aides for a while. Joe was not very nice to these wonderful people who would come in and give him a shower, dress him and make sure he ate. On the whole, most of these ladies were kind, wonderful people. Joe would make them cry. He was mean. He’d call them names. I had one wonderful woman who would cry almost every night when I came home, but she kept coming back. Some of them didn’t.

He would tell them he wanted to wait for me to come home and give him a shower. We had done this for several years previously because he was mostly ambulatory but needed help in the shower. As his physical condition got worse he needed help to walk (fall risk) and get around and so we were able to get the home aides. I was working full time to support us, and by the time I got home, made dinner and then give him a shower, I was so tired. I was already running exhausted all the time and his meanness with the aides just put me over the edge.

I had already talked to Joe (nicely) about being nice to the aides. I had encouraged him to take his showers during the day so I wouldn’t have that burden with him in the evening. We’d had a lot of talks about this. He’d say he just didn’t like them or they wouldn’t take care of him his way (which was to leave him alone).

After the fourth or fifth aide had come and gone I lost it. I yelled. I hollered. I blew my stack. I told him straight out that if he made it so I had to quit work to take care of him, he would regret every minute I was home. I told him if he didn’t straighten up I would slam him in a nursing home and never visit. There was a few other threats, but you get the idea.

It worked. At least for a bit of time. We also got an aide who had a thick skin and wouldn’t take the “guff” from him. I thanked God for her everyday, she was that good. She stayed with Joe up to the time I did put him in a nursing home because his medical needs were getting overwhelming for me and for the aides and the Home Health Care Nurses were coming more and more frequently.

I know I shouldn’t have blown up on him that way, but what do you do with all that frustration that builds up? It’s so hard to get any time to yourself, but I’d manage an hour or two on the weekends and that helped. I also had a counselor that I could vent to and a couple of friends that I would talk to. My faith also helped to temper much of my emotion. I look back on this time now and I feel some guilt for acting that way. But we are all on a “Learning Curve” so to speak. Most of us are thrown into caregiving without warning and the “Learning Curve” is very steep. So, even though I know I wasn’t my best person at that time, I forgive myself for acting that way and move forward. It’s the best thing to do.

Don’t Quit

I have a poem in a little holder on my desk and it’s been an inspiration to me off and on during my life. When I thought of putting it up on this blog I wanted to credit the writer. Well, I found out that there are many persons attributed to this poem and most of the poems that I read are similar to this one, but not quite the same.

So… here is the poem but at this time I’m not sure who wrote it:

When things go wrong
as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging
seems all uphill,
When the funds are low
and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,
but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit…
By all means pray, and don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out,
God’s hidden gift in the clouds of doubt.
You never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So trust in the Lord
when you’re hardest hit…
It’s when things go wrong,
that you must not quit!