I woke up this morning with a headache. My brain is on overload from all that is happening out there in the world and in my own family. My faithful pup beside me, I started my prayer time and thought about the gift that this little companion is…
“I wonder if dogs get headaches too?”
Asking myself the question, I begin the process of thinking through the science of it all, and eventually checked with Google. The consensus is “probably”, “although this is not able to be proven since you cannot just ask a canine if his head hurts.” [mysweetpuppy.net] There are medical reasons to believe that because dogs definitely experience pain, it is likely that they can get headaches.
While medicine can tell us so many things about our brains and how it works, including animals, it cannot determine the “why” of how we think.
I can never understand a dog’s thoughts because I am not a dog, just as
I cannot understand what it is like to be in another’s person’s skin.
My sweet mama had a stroke almost three years ago, and in recent days she has struggled with some past memories that haunt her. While I can be compassionate, loving and hopefully a little comforting to her, I will never truly understand her feelings. I know the facts surrounding her circumstance and I know the reality of her pain, but because it is something that I have only experienced second-hand,
I cannot pretend to understand.
And it grieves me. It moves me. And I realize that because that her 80-year-old life is vastly different from mine, I have to accept these differences and move forward in a way that shows not only that I care, but that I will be proactive in walking beside her in her journey.
Her dementia seems to bring out three responses:
Frustration. Perhaps because we feel inadequate. We can’t fix it and we can’t change it, so we have to learn to adjust our thinking and treat her with kindness and respect even when her personality changes how she would normally act.
Avoidance. Ignoring her situation certainly doesn’t change it. Some days are better than others, but the reality is sobering–this will not go away. So we choose to ignore it or to face it head on. We do have to learn and educate ourselves on her condition so we will be better armed to fight the battle with her.
Compassion. While most are sympathetic to her condition, the reality is that sometimes it’s just hard. On the good days we will laugh and share stories of her past. We think positively about the future and we focus on the good. But when the difficult days come we find ourselves choosing to overlook, excuse and ignore behavior that is not characteristic of the person trapped inside of her mind, because our love for her is unmovable.
“Speak up for those who have no voice,
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
Speak up, judge righteously,
and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.”
Maybe my headache is from over-thinking this too much. I don’t know, but the pain is worth the struggle. I’m her little girl. I need to understand so I can be a better daughter to her. My faith in God reminds me that I have an opportunity in these days to live out what I say I believe: That God loves her. He created her, and her life is valuable. That every day is a gift, and He gave us the choice–to walk in love or to go our own way.
Do you see how this might relate to racial reconciliation? Could it be that we all need to understand that we can never fully understand– and let that free us to explore what we can know, and then go forward in meaningful conversation and action.
Following God’s plan is not always the easy way. There are lots of things in this life that we cannot control–that’s why we are all created with a hole in our life that only He can fill, so that He can move in and take control. I believe He wants to give us His perspective so that we will have the wisdom we need to take the next step. What that next step looks like for me will be different for you. Saying yes to what God wants to do in you and through you is unique to your story. Following Him involves so much more than knowledge–it is allowing His Truth to fill your heart and your mind.
What will be your next step? How will you walk in obedience today? How can these verses help us to see others differently?
“But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind–God prepared this for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
“For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we have a sound mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15