Monday, March 10, 2008

Guard Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Judy was reading this verse and that made me think about it.

The context is a father's admonition to his children to seek and value wisdom.

Of course I immediately am drawn back to my caregiving career. And once again I find that experience illuminating my thinking.

So many times during that period I realized I lacked knowledge. And many times I thought if I could only understand the what and the why. And many times my physical ability was stretched well beyond my capacity. And my will faltered and failed so very often. I wanted to do things but I could not do them as much as I tried. Then there was lack of this and lack of that.

But really all of those things turned out to be manageable even though at first I did not believe so. I learned a lot even though there was much left to know. I gained some insight. I endured the strain on my body. And somehow I kept going even when I could not really make myself take another step. And I did without but we didn't really need it anyway.

As I think back the things that loomed so large begin to seem smaller and dimmer. But I do recognize how vulnerable was my heart, more than I realized at the time.

The psalmist gives some pointers about guarding one's heart:

  1. Put away perversity from your mouth
  2. Let your eyes look straight ahead
  3. Make level paths for your feet
  4. Do not swerve to the right or the left

I think it is surprising that the first pointer is about speech. I might write that "keep your speech under control and calm and pleasant." I did most of the time. I had some drastically bad failures though and even thinking about them makes me cringe. What it makes me think most of though is the days when dad's behavior would be so wild. If I were calm and quiet and kept my voice under control I could almost always calm him down. On the other hand if I lost control then things became worse and worse for both of us.

The second one I think is about not looking too far ahead and staying focused on the near term. It is like driving. If you concentrate on the curb too much then you invariably hit it. Or if you look too far ahead you don't see the pot hole. I think that's just as appropriate for my life as it is for someone with Alzheimer's.

That level path part I think is about making things as orderly as possible. That's when the routine was my friend. I remember how hard that was for me at first. Having some level places was good then and it is good now, too.

I think the last one means trying to make changes slowly. It isn't always possible of course but when it is things surely work better if new things can be introduced a little at a time. Big changes are just so disruptive.


cornbread hell said...

you put the *wise* in *wise guy.*

~Betsy said...

You draw some great parallels here. Routine and calm was definitely the order of the day back then. Thanks for making me think.

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

My dad shared many of your thoughts and he passed these down to me through the years. I was grateful to him and I am grateful to you now for giving me gentle reminders.