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Does Alzheimer's Let Us off the Hook in Our Relationships?

Figuring out the mess of illness in the midst of God’s creative work on us

Earlier this fall CBN's chairman Pat Robertson started quite a scandal when he told his 700 Club viewers that he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on someone for divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's disease. He called Alzheimer's itself "a kind of death." A week later in the midst of the uproar his comments had made, he made an attempt to apologize for his remarks yet left many feeling betrayed.

What Robertson failed to understand and express is really about the symphony of love that God created and designed for our relationships. The symphony of love begins with giggling children who mimic emotions by chanting, "I'll love you forever." Teenagers may steal a kiss at dusk. The symphony becomes stronger when adults ignore butterflies and hold hands before a minister and vow to love, honor, and be there for each other through thick and thin, sickness and health.

A song for these lovers might include chimes and skipping beats. As time passes will the vivacious symphony become richer or will it end when tragedy arrives? Instead of Robertson painting the beautiful, although sacrificial and often painful, view of marriage expressed by our Creator's symphony, he instead concentrated on personal needs, turning a love song into a melancholy whine. Instead of a symphony, it became a solo for one.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 5.4 million people suffer with Alzheimer's and 14.9 million unpaid caregivers provide love and support. Many of those caregivers feel Robertson belittled their sacrifices. The pain and suffering of the caregiver is real. Although it's a heartbreaking tragedy, the symphony of love can survive.

The symphony of love represents more than a chase after personal desires. The melody and full tones beat the drum of respect, honor, and commitment. The tempo changes as we age. Important issues that once were fought over are set aside. Desires often take a back seat to the determination to be unselfish with your spouse. The symphony God wants to write for you will mimic the love of God. His love isn't self-seeking and doesn't run from tragedy.

My parents are ministers and recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. Mother is wired for emotions, conversation, and connection. Dad loves to study and can spend hours at the computer. They made a great team doing church work. Mother attended to the emotional needs of the church while Dad prepared spiritual food for its members.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2011, December
Posted December 20, 2011

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