how to love the ones who don’t love you

Written by Lori

I am a fellow traveler on this journey toward Home. A follower of Jesus, hoping to shed a bit of His light with my words. I share a home with my best friend and fellow traveling companion, also Heaven bound, and two spoiled but wonderful cats. My passions are photography, writing, coffee, chocolate, and studying the Word, not necessarily in that order. I believe one of the most important ways to have a successful life is to always find humor in any situation. Former California girl, I now reside in Apache Junction, Arizona, but my heart longs for the Sierra Nevada, and the Pacific Ocean.

June 8, 2012

It’s 105 and she’s out on the swing in the carport. I see her, swinging back and forth, with her dark glasses in place. The motion helps the Alzheimer’s patient much like the rocking helps the Autistic child. As I watch, I am struck by how tragic it all is.

You learn early on to pick your battles, like with children. No matter how you say that it’s just too hot outside, she says it’s not that bad. Sweat pours down her back. Daughter tells her she has to come in, and she does, but she is not happy.

It’s been a gradual decline for both of her folks for about the past 6 years. First, he barricaded the house up. Then the threats started –calls to the police, and eventually, to his own daughter, the only one who has cared for them for years. He told her he would kill her if she crossed the threshold. Nothing prepares you for that. Even though your mind tells you it’s the Dementia talking and not him, it still hurts.

And when she finally got into the house, it was beyond bad. Her Dad went into a nursing home and will never come out. Her Mom stayed behind in the home for a while, coming to our house to stay at night. But then the house sold, along with most of what was in it.

She’s been with us for a year now, swinging out front, and pacing. It’s a little bit like living with a very large 4 year old, except you can’t tell her what to do. She leaves the door open because she gets cold in the house, and she throws her bottled water down the sink because it gets warm.

When confronted, we are met with an indifferent shrug but mostly we just do damage control.

As I watch her now, through the window, I put myself in her position and I try, really try with God’s help, to be patient and kind.  I recite 1 Corinthians 13 and I see how difficult it is now, to really love like Jesus wants us to. Being out of our comfort zone and on edge is the new normal.

I see my best friend suffering through all this alone, because everyone else has fled the scene. I get angry, because it is so not fair. I want to tell her to just let go. To get out from under all the criticism and demands and unrealistic burdens her Mom placed on her from early childhood on. But she tells me, “If I give to them what they gave me, that would make me just like them, and that is not who I want to be.”  She is living out what it means to treat someone the way you yourself would like to be treated. It’s called Grace, pure and simple, and anything but easy.

Seeing her Mom the way she is today, totally at the mercy of the daughter she herself was not there for, the fleshly person inside me rises up and says that this is cosmic justice being played out. What I now see, now that God has opened my blind eyes, is that this is what Jesus gives us. What He gives me every day, grace that I never gave Him.

On very tough days it feels like it’s a fight to the finish, “It’s either gonna be her or me, most likely me,” she says. And when you read the statistics of caregivers dying while taking care of a loved one, it’s daunting. But I know she will be just fine, because God’s promises are true.

The Bible says: “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:11

And when the time comes that she can no longer take care of her Mom, and it’s only a matter of time, she will have peace that comes from knowing she did all she could do.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25: 35, 36

Editor’s Note: Read part one of this story… when life goes on

31 Comments

  1. Amy Hunt

    Such beautiful worship your bride and you are living in this story. Truly. 

    Rich blessings as He leads you closer to His heart through this experience of loving when it’s hardest. 

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Thank you Amy, so appreciate your comments, and yes, it is a form of worship isn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Dupreeje

    Thank you Lori, this journey would be much harder without you, my prayer worrior,,,,and best friend.

    Reply
    • Duane Scott

      I take it you are the roommate? 

      God bless you. 

      Over and over again.  

      Reply
  3. Duane Scott

    Oh Lori, 

    “What I now see, now that God has opened my blind eyes, is that this is what Jesus gives us. What He gives me every day, grace that I never gave Him.” 

    Throughout this entire post, I can see your heart, your roommate’s heart, and the heart of Jesus.  It brings me close, closer to you and Him this morning because I just want to love, love like you, like your roommate, like Jesus. 

    This post is powerful, Lori and I’m sharing it all over the place. 

    Blessings, blessings… 

    -Duane Scott 

    P.S. Let your roommate read this? And give her an extra hug from me. 

    Reply
  4. NewNostalgia

    This so hit home with me.  I can’t tell you how perfect the timing is…what a beautiful picture of love.  Romans 10:11–so beautiful!

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Thank you so much! God’s timing is always right on….Lori

      Reply
  5. Beverley Bouchard


    And when the time comes that she can no longer take care of her Mom, and it’s only a matter of time, she will have peace that comes from knowing she did all she could do.”

     I can test that this is a true statement and she will be at peace….my oldest (adopted [we have biological and foster children too over the years]) son is about to go back to jail for the umpteenth time – it concerns me but there is no guilt and “what if’s”…we tried with the power of God to reach/teach him and it is not time apparently. In God’s time and he makes no mistakes.

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Oh Beverly, you will be in my prayers, what a tough situation. Can’t imagine….But His timing is always perfect and you are right, He certainly doesn’t make mistakes. Lori

      Reply
  6. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Your words always move me to a place of reverent understanding and worship, Lori. Thank you for penning this painful, beautiful story for your readers.

    peace`elaine

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Hi Elaine! This is what I love about blogging, the sense of communal worship and sharing….we are doing church right here! Thank you so much….Lori

      Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Yes, there is good that continues to come from it, as hard as it is 🙂

      Reply
  7. Nikole Hahn

    :o( What a light God shines through you. 

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Sometimes it is really fickering my friend, but it will never go out, because He won’t 🙂

      Reply
  8. soulstops

    what a powerful testimony: “She is living out what it means to treat someone the way you yourself would like to be treated. It’s called Grace, pure and simple, and anything but easy.”  Thank you.

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      You are very welcome 🙂

      Reply
  9. dukeslee

    Lori,

    Gospel words here. Powerful Gospel words. How I appreciate you. (So beautifully written…)

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Hi Jennifer! Hey this is like way cool seeing people I know from blogland 🙂

      Reply
  10. Brenda Coats

    Loving the unlovable is EXACTLY what Jesus did and still does. I worry about the time when I am called on to care for my Mom, and this is a great, shining example for me to remember. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      Thank you Brenda……every day it is a new challenge, I can’t imagine meeting it without Jesus. Well, I guess without Him it would be a whole different scenario I don’t even want to think about…

      Reply
  11. Cara Sexton

    This is the real grace we pass along, the hard kind. Beautiful. 

    Reply
    • Lheyd59

      As Ann Voskamp so rightly says, the hard Hallelujah, I have really come to see the beauty of that statement…grace and peace to you. Lori

      Reply
  12. David Rupert

    We often think of love rejected by those who make a choice. But what about those who are simply unable to return the love? Who cannot. 
    Keep. On. Loving. This is so difficult…

    Reply
    • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

      I am conservator to my demented auntie. It has never crossed my mind–I refuse to accept, in fact–that she can no longer love me. 

      No.

      She’s just not adept at expressing it anymore, that’s all. 

      Reply
      • Lheyd59

        Yes, that is so true. And yet, even in her right mind, my friend’s Mom was never a loving Mother, was never there emotionally for any of her kids. That is why it is so difficult now I guess, you don’t have the bank of all those wonderful memories to look back on…sigh! I think that is why everyone else in the family has jumped ship……

        Reply
  13. pastordt

    Oh my, what a story. Thank you for this beautiful rendition of grace above and beyond. But then…that’s what grace is, I guess. Above and beyond. 

    My mom, who did love me well, is beginning that long downhill slide, picking up speed at an alarming rate. And she is in a 3-step retirement community, having moved from independent to assisted living last January. I hope and pray that’s where she stays and that the full-care facility is never required. She and my dad made the decision to live there as he began to fail 10 years ago, so now I travel every other week or so, driving 135  miles each way to take her to the doctor and try to provide a little emotional lift in her life. I talk to her on the phone every day, buying a special cell so I could call her every night while we traveled out of the country briefly last month. This process is so, so hard and is surely on my list of questions for heaven some day. Prayers for strength and endurance for your friend and for great gifts of encouragement for you as you walk this road with her.

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Oh bless your heart, and your dear folks. What a wonderful sacrifice you have made. There are so many people right now dealing with this. Our technology and medical advancements have made it possible for people to live so much longer now and sometimes it is very good, but sometimes you wonder where quality of life comes into play. It sounds like they are doing well though. How wonderful that they made the decision on their own to live there. But I am sure traveling so many miles is very hard, and also costly. My prayers are surely with you! Lori

      Reply
      • pastordt

        My dad died after two years and mom lived independently until January. Now we watch and wait. And you are so right, there are so.many.of.us dealing with these very issues. My husband’s mom is now on hospice for severe dementia – so, as I said…we watch and wait and wonder when Jesus will call them home.

        Reply
        • 1lori_1

          Yes, we watch and wait. In my experience with this so far, I would have to say that i have experienced firat hand why there needs to be a two-fold plan of training for healthcare workers. One for the one being cared for and one for the caregiver. It is heartbreaking for all involved. I can’t imagine going through this without the Lord! My thoughts and prayers are certainly with you.

          Reply
  14. Sandra Heska King

    Finally coming back to this. How very powerful. Grace and mercy. And love. Yes, love.

    Reply

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how to love the ones who don’t love you

by Lori time to read: 4 min
35