I had taken my husband to have his car repaired.  Then I had gone to a different dealership to have my car serviced.  As the oil was being changed in my car, I lost my bearings and somehow ended up in a hospital.  Within a few hours, I was released but all my memory had somehow been erased. 

I wandered around calling for my husband.  I wasn’t concerned about myself but about him because he has vascular dementia.  I knew that he would not be able to find me or remember where I had gone.  I knew that he wouldn’t able to get home.  It didn’t seem to matter that I didn’t know where my car was or how I would get home.  My deep concern was his well-being.

As the dream accelerated into mass confusion, I woke myself up, relieved that it was only a dream.

Facing life-changing decisions, I see myself working with great effort a maze of emotions and concerns.  A good friend of mine has just lost her daughter.  She and her daughter were inseparable friends.  Now the young woman who was mentally challenged is gone. 

Another good friend is grieving the loss of her strong active husband as he slowly becomes an invalid barely capable of functioning in the work place.  We literally hold each other up as we walk and talk together in the cool of the evening.  She tells me her dreams and I try to help her find the true godly meaning of them.  In turn, I pour out my dreams and she seeks the wisdom God wants me to know through them. 

Life isn’t a dream.  Life is reality.  However, I am personally grateful for the tool of the dream that God has given to us that enables us to work through the griefs and sorrows of reality. 

What tool do you use to work through the hard times of your life?

I write down my dreams.  And, yes, I agree with Joseph who told Pharoah that God gives the interpretations to our dreams.  Several years ago I had a dream that completely confused me.  The essence of it was that my husband and I moved into a large new house in Denver, Colorado.  The house was beautiful, large and expensive.  We even owned a shopping center in our lower floor.  I loved the house but at the end of the dream, I burst into tears, saying, “I miss my old home.” 

The dream completely confused me.  The question loomed in my brain, How could I be so unhappy about such a great and beneficial move?  Last week I reread the dream.  This time the meaning was totally clear to me.  Ten years ago, my life took a radical and violent detour.  As a result, everything was turned upside down.  I felt I would lose my ministry and perhaps even my family.  Even though none of that happened, I grieved my loss for three years.  As the years have slipped away, however, the result of this radical change for me has been that I have a great deal more freedom and stability than I’d ever imagined I would have.   

The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We do classic ministry, evangelizing and discipleship.  As a result, we are the pastors of many people who don’t even attend our weekly programs.  In a conversation with a family member last week, a father confided, “The birth of Marvin was the best and worst thing that ever happened to our family.”  Marvin is a man in his thirties.  Handsome and energetic, Marvin is also developmentally disabled.  Like all our families, his mental retardation has been a source of great grief for the family over the years.  However, as Marvin has developed and matured, he has become his parents greatest source of joy.  This is also true in almost all of our families.

The famous disability lawyer and my good friend, Dolores Norley died about two years ago. When she realized that she was terminally ill, Dolores put her son in a group home .  One afternoon as we sat on her screened porch, she laughingly told me, “I’m going to be really mad at God if I don’t die soon. ” It had been a difficult decision to not continue to live with her son in their lovely garden cottage.   “I’ve had two husbands and several roommates but my son is the best companion I’ve ever had.”  Her laughter stopped and tears formed as her voice cracked, “I cannot tell you how much I miss him.” 

This sentiment is echoed in the families who make up our small subculture again and again.  God’s economy and ways are not like our ways.  His economy is often too upside down for my tastes. But over the years, we learn that he is correct and often the greatest, most brutal experiences of grief become our greatest blessing.

How many times have your heard the same sentiment from other parents whose children are intellectually delayed?  Do you see that same sentiment expressed by the siblings of the family?  What makes the difference between sibling who resent their disabled brother or sister and who love them?  Or is that the subject of another blog?