54: Marching in the Thought Parade

54: Marching in the Thought Parade

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Marching in the Thought Parade

By Tracy Crump

“So I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss till dawn.”

~Job 7:3-4

Every night was the same. I flipped restlessly in bed as thoughts paraded through my mind, no matter how hard I tried to stop them. The trouble was they never marched through and disappeared into the darkness. Oh, no. They made the corner and came round again and again in an endless circle, all centered on my mother.

Mom had suddenly begun to decline two months before. She became confused and forgetful. Cooking and driving were out of the question. Always an avid reader, she could no longer follow a story and stopped trying. More perplexing to me, however, were odd symptoms that didn’t fit with the diagnosis of dementia the doctor handed down.

As a former nurse, my parents relied on me for medical advice. We had visited numerous specialists, yet Mom continued to deteriorate rapidly. Something else was wrong, but what? Every night, I tried to reason it through, exhausting myself with fruitless worrying.

“This is stupid!” I told myself as I watched the glowing clock tick the hours away each night. “Thinking won’t change anything. Only God can handle this.” I knew it, yet in that twilight stage between consciousness and sleep, I couldn’t stop the thoughts from coming. Prayer was the obvious answer, but before a few words formed on my lips, my mind took off in other directions. “Maybe her thyroid is out of balance. Have we checked her for anemia lately?”

When I realized another hour had passed, I tried reciting scripture to halt the thought parade. “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. . .” (Psalm 23:1-2). “Water. Mom doesn’t drink enough water. Maybe she has a urinary tract infection. That always throws older people for a loop.” And off I went again.

Every morning, shame would overtake me. I was supposed to trust in God with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. That fact shone clear in the daylight, but in the dark, shadows obscured it again.

Finally, one night, I simply gave up. “Lord, there’s nothing more I can do,” I prayed. “Please forgive me for trying to play God.” As I drifted off to sleep, the long-forgotten memory of a friend whose father had symptoms similar to Mom’s floated into my consciousness. A few weeks later, my mother had surgery for normal pressure hydrocephalus, the condition that plagued both her and my friend’s father. God gave me the answer I had tried so hard to devise on my own.

The Creator of the universe held the solution to my dilemma all along, but I had to concede defeat first. Only by putting myself completely in His hands could I hear His voice at last. Maybe next time I’ll remember who holds all the answers and avoid nights of misery marching in the thought parade.

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