Last year I told a small portion of the story of how my brush with Alzheimer’s all began; there was, however, far more to the story…
I was at school preparing my classes when I was called into the principal’s office. When I arrived, we wasn’t alone. Also in the room was one of my students. I knew she was in my class, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember her name. There was a woman with her, presumably her mother, and I knew her to be a Vice-Principal in another school. There were others there as well, but somehow I didn’t know any of them. The one thing that was clear: Everyone seemed to be waiting for me with eager – and perhaps somewhat impatient – anticipation.
It soon became evident that I was the only one who had no idea why I was there. They began asking me questions then, questions that I rightly couldn’t answer. I was generally very good at knowing my students well, and I had led many meetings about students in the past; but not that day. How could I, when I truly didn’t know which student was in the office with me?
Somehow I stumbled through the meeting, and the only thing that was clear to me was that emotions in the room were swiftly morphing from impatience to annoyance to … anger! The student’s mother was especially angry, and when the meeting was over, she and my principal lit into me with a razor-sharp tongues, telling me in no uncertain terms that I had failed them, I had failed my student, and I had failed the others in the room, who, apparently, were from the school board. I could only shake my head. I had no idea – and I still don’t! – what this was all about. One thing was clear, however: I should have known!
At noon that day I went out for a walk. As was my habit, I talked with my heavenly Father, and I asked Him what was happening to me. My mother was in a nursing home in Belgium at the time, due to significantly-advanced Alzheimer’s. Had I had inherited the tendency towards Alzheimer’s from my mom? Surely not! I was, after all, only in my mid-fifties! Was it possible?
But what else could have robbed me of my ability to know the people in my principal’s office?
I tried to call my student’s mom the following day, but when she refused to talk to me, I continued to find myself at a loss as to what had happened the previous day.
That was also the first day I couldn’t figure out how to use my smart board. I had used the electronic tool every day for several years. I had carefully prepared all my classes on the smart board the previous day, yet it was like it was a foreign object.
Those were indeed, dark days. I took such comfort from Psalms 16 during those days: “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing… Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:1-2,5-8 NIV)
The few people who knew I had Alzheimer’s were very understanding and helpful. The rest of the world, not so much. I found, however, that when I stayed focused on my Heavenly Father and Him alone, things went well. I was not alone. His presence was ever with me. He loved me, He cared for me, and He continues to do so on a daily basis.
What problems are YOU facing today? Whatever they are, no matter how big or small, remember, we can take refuge in God, and apart from Him we have no good thing. He is our portion, our cup. He makes us secure. He ensures a delightful inheritance. When we keep our eyes on Him, He gives us the guidance we need, and we know that we will never be shaken!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)