I’m here in the hospital helping to take care of my 87-year-old mother who had a hysterectomy because of uterine cancer. We are praising the Lord that the surgeon believes he removed all the cancer. 

As I’m caring for her, I’m remembering many scenes of taking care of my mother-in-law Audrey while she lived in our home. Audrey had dementia and struggled with many kinds of fear.

One Christmas, our then-three-year-old grandson, Raffi, was fascinated by Audrey’s walker. He loved to push it around. Audrey became very anxious. She called out to him, “Don’t take away my walker. I need it. Don’t hurt it. I’m dependent upon it. I’m just an old woman, so don’t hurt it.”

Initially, I was miffed (another denial-word for anger) that Audrey would think we wouldn’t provide well for her. Why couldn’t she trust that we would make sure Raf wouldn’t hurt it? Why couldn’t she believe that we would make sure she had what she needed, even if Raf should hurt it? 

It was sad to think that Audrey felt she was on her own; that she had to be fearful and make sure that something/someone didn’t damage what she needed. She never asked us to keep an eye on the walker and help to keep it safe. She had to call after Raf and try to control something that she had little control over since she didn’t have the strength to retrieve it herself. We, on the other hand, could do something about it and we did. We decided that Raf couldn’t play with it because it brought her too much anxiety.

I can see so many spiritual applications. We each have our “walker” that we believe we need. Whether it’s security, peace, a relationship, a plan, a desire, a reputation…pick which “walker” you believe you need for your safety. It becomes our idol and we fearfully and anxiously try to provide it for ourselves. 

We can’t trust that God will provide or protect that which we need. We must provide and protect it ourselves. We believe we’re on our own and we call out to the offending party who is trying to remove what we need, “Don’t take away my walker. I need it. Don’t hurt it. I’m dependent upon it. I’m just a helpless Christian, so don’t hurt it.”

All the time, the Lord is thankfully not miffed but He is standing by with godly sorrow saying, “I’ll take care of this. I’ll take care of you. I promise that I will provide everything you need. Trust me!” (Philippians 4:19).

An application for me is how I was able to have more compassion for Audrey as I recognized what was going on. I could have thought of her as just being selfish and not wanting Raf to have fun. Of course, as Raf’s grandma, I wanted him to have fun! I wanted to be irritated with her for preventing his fun. But then I realized she was fearful and unable to trust for what she needed. Her dementia made it impossible.

You and I can’t blame dementia for not trusting God. We can do something about our fear and anxiety. We can turn to God and trust that He’ll provide everything He knows we truly need. And He is so wise! He knows more than we do what is best for us.

Once I started recognizing fear as the motivation behind ungodly reactions in me and others, it really made a difference. It’s amazing to realize how much fear is at the bottom of things. Asking myself, “What am I really afraid of right now that I’m responding with anger or meanness or….?” And I can give grace to others when I see that fear is driving them. Their reaction may not be about me but about their own level of trust in God.

What is your “walker”? What are you fearful someone will take away? Who are you reacting to in an ungodly manner because it feels like they hold your “idol” in their power?

I hope we’ll trust God more for His protection and provision. We are powerful in the Lord. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. And we can be assured that God knows everything we truly need and wants to provide for us.