I am beginning to think that the loss I see happening with her represents to me the loss of a whole generation. A generation of people who actively pursued right; who suffered deprivation, who gave up so much to fight a war overseas, who lived up to their civic duties, who practiced their Christianity.
Yes, we had many quibbles with them. Their boring box houses, their conventionalities, their fear of debt, their willingness to stay married no matter what. We baby boomers would do it better. But we didn't. We have contributed to a decline that we may not be able to pull out of. We are selfish and we have raised selfishness to an art form and those following us are taking it to even higher levels. The idea of sacrifice for the greater good cannot penetrate our hedonistic brains.
My mother's generation faced pain and learned from it. We avoid pain and learn nothing in the process. Comfort is our god; our own puny minds sit enthroned as ultimate power--we will not acknowledge that God is God and actually has a claim on our lives. No, we will create our own tiny and tinny little gods that we can control. And we will think there are no consequences from such actions. But there are. Oh yes, there are.
My mothers generation practiced discipline and service of others. We practice self-indulgence and gratification of our own desires. If it feels good, do it. That was our mantra and it is now so thoroughly engrained in the current generation of youth and children that 12 year olds are actively engaged in sex. After all, it does feel good. The ideas of restraint and self-control strike them as hopelessly out of date.
In my current exhaustion, I sense a overwhelming sadness taking hold. My awareness grows that there is little I can do to fix this, except be faithful and in that faithfulness, quit telling God how I want my life to go and start being much more willing to say, "Not my will, but Thine."
I see my struggle with what is right transferring to the life of the church. We too want what we want, not necessarily what God wants. I look at myself: I want to build a successful church, be known as the pastor who made it happen. Yes, I do indeed want to be god.
What if God is calling me into that place of death as well? The place, where, like Jonah in that nasty fish belly, all pretensions are stripped away? The place where I fully acknowledge my own finiteness, my own tendency to make questionable decisions and to run away from the challenging call of God, the place where I look myself squarely in the face and say, "Christy, you really do need a Savior."
What if God is calling me to be a failure? Jonah, after all, was ultimately a failure--and his story is so much our story.
Lots of questions. So few answers.
As for my mother . . . sometime in the next 24-48 hours, a "PEG line" a semi-permanent feeding tube, will be inserted into her stomach. This is the best thing we can do to ensure that she gets adequate nutrients and a chance to recover. When I spoke with the physician who evaluated her for the procedure, she didn't pull any punches. The chances of another stroke are very high. But . . . this appears to be the best of all options, so we are going forward.
She appears to be much more alert today. The mild sedation needed for the insertion of the tube will probably affect that alertness negatively, but we hope that will be a minor step backward and one accompanied by steps forward soon after. Even with the beginnings of her swallowing reflex showing up, there is no way to start regular mouth feeding safely.
A feeding tube . . . I hate the idea. I hear horror stories of elderly people with no mental life left being kept alive for years with Ensure and a feeding tube. I hope they are apocryphal. But we are doing what we must at this point to give her the best support available for recovery.