Step into their world

"Step into their world..."

...so goes one philosophy for Rules of Engagement with family members suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. While listening to NPR's recent This American Life episode, "Magic Words", Act 2, I learned about the creators of http://www.in-themoment.com/, a couple whose mother fell prey to Alzheimer's.

Forgoing immediate correction, dismissing nay-saying and altogether disregarding the entrenched demand to get the facts straight, this imaginative and playful approach suspends reality in order to enter into the world of the family member whose memory has betrayed them.

I don't personally have any experience with this painful and confusing sojourn with a family member whose mind is unpredictable and unchartable. The merits of this philosophy seem to have warrant, though. Not that the affects and remedies of these painful tribulations can be so simplified into one simple rubric, but a "step into their world" mantra could be beneficial.

I can relate as a father and as a child in the kingdom of God. It gave me pause to evaluate "How am I doing at stepping into my daughter's world?" Her imagination is exploding right now: bears in the closet, make-believe friends who need prayer, surprise events from the day which never truly occurred, monkeys in the tree. When I step into her world, I affirm her dignity as a child, as my daughter. Her imagination afterall is the precursor to faith, faith which I pray grows like a mustard seed in her heart. If she learns to live a myopic and short-sighted life which can only be corroborated by the seen and tangible, then her heart will atrophy, wither and die. The rejection or loss of childlike wonder, imagination and helplessness leads to suffering for her and others. When I lose this wonder and imaginative play, I also lose out on relationship with her.

The Contents of my Refrigerator

"There's nothing to eat in the fridge," I said glibly and hurriedly in a passive aggressive tone to my bride.

"Oh, I'm not complaining..." I fumbled for a quick follow up for Amber who was in earshot, trying to cover my tracks with a healthy dose of self-deception.

After a few moments, the Spirit shone a light into the dark recesses of my soul where grumbling and complaining sit like stagnant water. Were the shelves a bit sparse? Yes. Was there food? Yes. More food and more diversity than most in the world enjoy? Yes. What I was really saying was, "I'm tired of eating what's in the fridge. I want something more exciting and comforting to act as a balm to my aching soul right now."

"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" - those are the sagacious, timeless and cutting words of my Lord.

Later that day as I was reflecting on this seemingly innocuous encounter with the contents of my refrigerator and the contents of my heart, I chuckled.

Earlier that morning while reflecting on the grumbling and complaining of the liberated people of God which we find in the book of Numbers, I took that as a nudge to pray and ask the Lord to aid me in not being a complainer like "those" short-sighted, ungrateful Israelites who had just been freed from slavery. How could they complain about God's provisions in the wilderness? How?! He had just performed the greatest liberation at that point in human history and they had the gall to complain about the food he was generating for them in the wilderness. Those ingrates! How could they be so myopic!

Oh, wait.