Okay, let’s just call it what it is! I have entered the sandwich stage of life! I am old enough to have children and grandchildren, and blessed enough to still have parents.
But coaching children that are becoming parents and encouraging parents that are becoming more child-like can wear on a body.
Then, add in the privilege of caring for our grandchildren and trying to find time to pursue interests that we could not do when we were up to our arm pits in ball practice, ballet recitals, and jogs to the emergency room because of bikes that did not make the jump with its rider, and I realize that I have gotten older. I don’t accomplish all that I use to accomplish. Life has changed significantly, and I need to learn to face the transition with grace and mercy toward myself and others.
Grace flows from the heart toward the ones who first taught grace to me. Bent and shuffling is the once strong man who would climb onto rooftops with me scampering at his side. Then, as a single mother, there we were together high above the world repairing the roof from passing storms.
And there was that time that we had pizza in the park the day after I signed divorce papers. My strong dad– now his smooth olive skin is lined, mapping the story of his life; and the back once strong enough to carry shingles up the ladder, now struggles to straighten.
She who once must be obeyed and brought great comfort, now forgets things. We struggle with communication and words are not always sweet. But last week we went to the inner city Ministry together, and the words and time together was sweet.
“Grace, remember grace,” I remind myself.
So how do we operationalize this gift of grace?
1) “Please place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”
You need to be as emotionally and physically healthy as you can be in this time. Get rest, drink plenty of water, go for walks and care for yourself. If you are barely holding up, then you do not have much left to give.
2) Draw healthy boundaries.
The signs of dementia begin early; sometimes it is with sharp words that come out of a person that has been so nurturing all of your life. Let that person know that it hurts you relationship with them when they say these things. Keep your words sweet and soft. You never know when you might have to eat them.
You never know how you might be at their age. Forgive, as you would want to be forgiven in the same situation. Unforgiveness tethers you to the words that hurt, and later we can ruminate over the words, which cause us to walk into the blade of unkind words for the rest of our lives.
Let it go – extend mercy with your grace.
“Every experience God gives us, every person he brings in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” ~Corrie ten Boom
And in this thought we should, we can, count it all joy.
“ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
“Like rocks tumbled or rough wood sanded, a person changes over time when external forces rub them the right way.” ~Robin Dance
So can we look at this sandwich time in our lives as a time that God is smoothing out our rough edges and perfecting His image in us?