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Volume 99, Number 2


 
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Selfless Love

By Jon Stuckey

snow covered sidewalk

Office of Marketing and Public Relations

A blanket of flurries bathes Old Main in winter white.


For about five years, I had the privilege of facilitating a support group for family members of persons with Alzheimer’s disease. My research interests were in the field of dementia and caregiving; spending time with these families gave me a very personal connection to the issues I was researching.


On a cold and snowy December night, five of us had gathered in the room. One of my favorite members was there — a Mennonite man in his 80’s who spoke with the endearing Swiss accent of my grandfather. A deeply religious man, he told me he began praying a new prayer for his wife, and I immediately assumed he was praying for God to cure her. I prepared myself for what I would need to tell him — that God’s ability to heal was not something we could command. He would need to face the reality of his wife’s disease and begin planning for long-term care. What he told me next was a gift I will always treasure.


He said his new prayer was asking that God extend his life longer than hers so that, no matter if she was with him or in a nursing home, he could be the one to care for her until she died. My heart broke for him, yet the balm of God’s healing grace overcame me. How beautiful the love of God, that it manifests in such ways. My friend was not commanding God to heal his wife, which of course he wanted so desperately. Rather, he began petitioning God for long enough life to treasure her for the remainder of her days, though she was long past the point of recognizing him.


A truly selfless love, and yet, doesn’t it give a mere glimpse of the love of God? Even in the midst of illness and disease, we are reminded of God’s grace and perfect peace. I’m reminded that the birth of Christ is such a gift — a gift sent into a broken world by the One who seeks to treasure and care for us until we cross over into full and pure reconciliation with God.

Jon Stuckey is director of development.

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