“When time furtively slips like sand through the fingers and our memory becomes tired and lazy, we recognize we are at a war with forgetfulness.”
My Granddad is in the early stages of what could be a long battle with Alzheimer’s. We started noticing the short-term memory loss about three years ago. Two years ago, things became more pronounced, and the past year has been heartbreaking.
He was a newspaper man all his adult life. And really, even before that. He took journalism at Hogansville High School in Georgia. A little less than ten years ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Hogansville with the old man. While we were there, we stopped by his old high school teacher’s home. Her name is Jane Strain (Doesn’t that name just sound like a writer?).
At Ms. Strain’s home, my grandfather recounted learning “the five W’s and an H.” They talked through memories of covering football games and The Hummingbird Festival. The two carried on like old friends. It was a wonderful day.
But Alzheimer’s is not so wonderful.
These days, it’s the same story multiple times in one conversation. It’s spending more time talking to my grandmother as my grandfather watches, blankly.
In these moments I realize how much I am like my Grandfather.
My wife recently took a new position at her job. One she wanted for months. When the job was approved, instead of celebrating God’s providence, I forgot.
All I could see was the additional daycare expense. All I could do was groan over the fact that we’d have to completely redo our budget, griping about the one place we’re lacking instead of thanking God for all the abundance we have in so many other areas. And in my ungratefulness, I pulled away.
I pulled away from God, and I pulled away from my wife.
I forgot just how good God is and how faithful He has continually proven Himself to be.
It sounds a lot like Israel. Over and over in Scripture, we see hard-headed Israel, forgetting God’s promises and pulling away from their connection. Again and again, the Prophets speak and call them to repent and remember.
“And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side…” Judges 8:34-35
There are times when we see a spark of my Grandfather’s old self. He laughs at a once-familiar story or gets nearly ever detail of a childhood tale correct. He remembers the name of a friend from years ago, and for a moment, everything feels right again.
“He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made for a thousand generations.” Psalm 105:8
For me, all of my faith is but a spark. A momentary flash. And isn’t that true for so many of us? The Christian life is one plagued by chronic forgetfulness. But in His faithfulness, God never forgets.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
To My Grandfather. The One with Alzheimer’s.
It’s Time for the Church to Confront Mental Health (via USA Today)
Suicide: Let’s Talk about It (podcast)
Pastors and Suicide: How Do We Keep this From Happening Again?
Suicide Survivors: 7 Things to do the Day After You Leave the Psych Ward
GUEST POST: The Velveteen Rabbit, Impossible Magic, and Finding Authentic Faith
Guest Blog – Worthy and Unashamed: Facing Mental Health Stigma in the Church Head-On
Guest blog: It’s Depression, Not Demon Possession