[Written by Liz Getz]
We have all heard the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination” and the older I have gotten the truer that has become. Interestingly enough my life’s work is focused on the beginning and the end of that journey. I love working with young children in our church nursery and seeing the inquisitive and growing minds as they see, do, feel and experience new things. The simple joys of seeing children respond to you with smiles and laughs. Although I will say the Halbrooks cuties are all pretty tough customers in the laugh department but don’t worry girls Miss Liz will eventually solve that mystery! 🙂
I spend the majority of my time around the seniors in the skilled nursing facility where I work as an HR Manager. Even though they all seem very similar now we do try to remember they were once teachers, housewives, one was a court reporter, a dentist, career military men and even one that counted money in the cash room at Pizitz Department Store. The one thing I have learned and see every single day is the amazing and truly unpredictable nature of the human mind. I see these residents -many of whom have some degree of Alzheimer’s or dementia- having good days and bad days. I see them in the course of a normal day go from being totally there to being confused and talking about people, places, and events that although real might have happened 50 years ago as if was today to back to being in the present. They’ve told me they had just given birth to a baby girl… to saying their parents are coming to pick them up to yelling out for a husband that has long since passed away.
You have to find humor where you can when dealing with this population because it can be hard to watch people at what is an end of life stage. So it comical to see a 92-year-old woman sitting in a wheelchair talking about waiting to be picked up for school but worried about going because she did not have her books and did not do her lessons. We smile at them and generally just play along as it is no longer recommended to try and bring them back to reality it can be jarring and is largely unsuccessful. That is honestly what she thinks is happening right now. There was a woman who told me every single day until she passed away that her husband had just died. In her mind, she really could not get past that point and although it is not uncommon it is still incredibly sad. We cannot decide for ourselves what events or memories our minds will be stuck on or where our mind will travel back to time after time. I can think of plenty of things I hope I won’t be going back to again and again when I am in their shoes!
The lesson I hope to get out of this is that I want…I need… is to pay more attention to my journey. I want to focus on the things that really matter in life. I want the things that fill my heart and mind to not necessarily be the things that fill many of my hours like my career. I do not want to be defined by what I do or what I am on paper. I want to remind myself not to get too focused on any one bill to pay or deadline to meet as there will always be more where that came from. The obligations will continue, the unexpected will happen, but I can choose how to respond in those times. I will have to ‘adult’ on a regular basis – like it or not. Yet the things I stress over today will usually not matter in even a month much less a year or 10 years. I want to see the beauty in each day and never forget it is fleeting. I want to laugh and make others laugh. I want to feel great at the end of the day because of how I feel and made others feel and not what I have accomplished. I want to love unapologetically both myself and others. Above all, I want to focus on my relationship with Christ as that is the most important relationship we will ever have.
We can turn to scripture for some reminders:
“ So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
I hope we will all spend more time on our journey no matter if we are towards the beginning, the middle or the end. Love more and fight less. See flaws as beautiful not as failures. Get up stronger whenever we fall. Help someone around us even if they have not asked for it. Give of our time not take time away from those we love. Smile more and stress less. This list of all the ways we can nurture ourselves and our journey is almost endless. If we make our journey all it possibly can be then when we do get to that final destination of spending eternity in Heaven with our Lord and Savior it will be just that much sweeter!