Coming home from another exhausting day caring for my widowed mom, I was pondering a popular idea right now of “no contact.”1 See, my mom is a very broken and wounded person, and wounded people wound. She has always been what some call a narcissist. A narcissist is a supremely wounded soul. So, this idea of abandoning her, cancelling her, in order to protect myself, is sometimes, on bad days, fleetingly attractive. But then God, out of the blue, put this verse in my mind:
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
Wow, I was stunned because I don’t think I have ever thought of my own family in this way. It’s always “people out there” who are the least of these. But actually, I realized that I have begun seeing a “least of these” in my mom. There is a broken, hurting little girl in there who is being uncovered as dementia ravages her brain. A hurting little “least of these.” She is telling me terrible and brutal things that happened to her that she has always kept hidden from us.
But my mom has been and continues to be, with even less restraint now because of the disease, hurtful and cutting at times. The idea of turning away is sometimes very inviting. Ah, but then another word comes:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
OK, I’m beginning to see I have a different standard to follow, a different way to walk.
If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. 1 Timothy 5:16 (ESV)
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
Jesus replied, “‘… honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:18-19
Honoring and caring for your father and mother appears to be very important to God. In Ephesians 6:2 Paul writes, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—”so that it may go well with you …” One of the last things that Jesus did, hanging on the cross dying, was to ensure the care of his mother:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27
Jesus was obeying the commandment, he was pleasing God, he was loving and being Love. There are times, I know, where “no contact” is warranted, physical or sexual abuse in particular. And everyone must hear from God for themselves. But, for me anyway, God is saying to keep loving her, to let Him love her through me. And as he gives me the grace to do it, I am able to see her as God sees her, a sweet, wounded little girl. I am finding that in the face of this God-love, Christ-in-me love, just unconditional-because-it-pleases-God love, she softens, and her real self is exposed. And I see “the least of these” emerge more and more.
“I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need . . . to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us.” — Henri J. M. Nouwen
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
1A definition of “No Contact” in this context can be found here: https://psychcentral.com/health/does-going-no-contact-with-a-parent-heal-you-the-answer-isnt-what-you-think
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