Monday, July 10, 2017

The wholeness of our persons in Christ

Recently I encountered two sources on Alzheimer’s that are helpful. The first a book by a past governor of Wisconsin, Marin J. Schreiber. Schreiber writes about his journey with his wife Elaine; his book is My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. While I ordered the Schreiber’s book intentionally, I also ordered a movie from Netflix’s not realizing that it was partly about a wife who had Alzheimer’s. The movie is based on a true story about a man who is trying to build a home, on his own land, for his sick wife, and is harassed by bureaucrats in his native Canada. The movie, Still Mine, stars James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold. It is a love story.

The book My Two Elaines is a small book with beautiful pictures of Elaine and some very sound advice such as “Unfamiliar settings such as hotels can be particularly upsetting to people with dementia because they have trouble re-orienting.”


Asking others to help does not mean you’re not strong enough or not trying hard enough.”

But I did think that there was too much emphasis on the two person concept. That is, that those with Alzheimer’s become a different person than they were before they began suffering with the disease. The author wants to see his wife of his past as different from the wife he now is married to. I want to put a Christian perspective on this, but first the movie.

I loved Still Mine partly because it attaches the lives of the two main characters to their past. The husband and wife are the parents of seven grown children although only two of them are in the movie. The husband and wife love each other and they speak about their past with each other. They live on a 2000 acre farm and neither want to leave their land although a daughter tries to persuade them. (And here one needs to know that the husband although in his eighties is healthy and strong.)

But the beauty of the movie is that even with the dementia issue the wife is loved for who she is and will be. She may lose who she is but her husband will love her for her whole self, past, present and future. And isn’t that how God sees and loves us.

There are a lot of arguments and conclusions today about identity. But for a Christian, our identity is in Christ. And I believe God gathers, in Christ, all of our being up into a whole forgetting only the sinful part that is lost (thrown away in redemption.)
I believe we must love the whole person even when they have forgotten themselves.
I am trying to apply some of my thoughts in a practical manner.
My husband should not walk anymore by himself. He is legally blind and sometimes he forgets to look when crossing streets—I’m not sure he can see well enough when he does look—but he is now persistent that he must walk. Even on Sunday afternoon when it is 100 degrees outside. Three times this week when we were unable to walk because we missed the cooler mornings he slipped out the back door and walked. Today I saw him and followed. And it was a hundred degrees I reminded him, in a rather loud voice, when we returned home. He wasn’t hot he said.
But this is not just a new Brad, this is the tenacity that has always belonged to Brad. It is too early in the journey to put locks on the inside of the doors. I will simply keep working at finding a better rhythm for our days.

No comments:

Post a Comment