“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (American Standard Version)
As my mother’s dementia deepens, she is increasingly argumentative and demanding. She “sees” things and people and gets quite upset when we tell her there isn’t anything or anyone there. She has trouble completing sentences.
Verse 31 of Ephesians 4 is almost a litany of her behavior: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, railing and malice. Not much that I do is right, according to her evaluation. Her pillows are too high, then too low. The room is too cold, then too hot. Her clothes are too big or too tight. And so the day passes.
As she goes on and on, the temptation is to respond in kind, to stand up to her and give her as good as she gives me. I am ashamed to say that there are moments when I yield to the temptation and hear myself scolding back at her, considerably louder than I ought to address her.
Then I remember the verse that was so often a memory verse: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” The King James Version was the one we used back when I was a Sunday School child. Ephesians 4:32 pops into my head and I remember I should be tenderhearted toward the stranger who now inhabits my mother’s body.
There are two important parts to that verse. The first is clear; we should be kind to each other. The second part is equally clear and equally important. Forgive as we have been forgiven. Oops.
There are times when I am full of those verse 31 feelings, too. I am angry that my mother is in such a condition and I am helpless against it. I clamor about the unfairness of being laid off at my age and how useless I feel to be unemployed. Yet God, through the love He bears His Son, forgives me those unkind feelings. How can I do less for my mother?
Take time to be kind to someone today, someone who doesn’t seem to deserve your kindness. I can promise you they need it. Just as you have received the kindness of God’s forgiveness because you needed it.
Father, we thank You for Your great kindness which You give to us through Christ Jesus. Help us to pass the kindness along to others, and to forgive as we have been forgiven.
© 2009 Mary Beth Magee