dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

Water, water everywhere

on February 3, 2014

I used to live on the Somerset Levels, halfway between Taunton and Yeovil. And yes, there was a certain amount of flooding every year but nothing compared to what people are experiencing at the moment. Today I spent the morning with friends in Bungay, 15 minutes north of here. My friend’s house is high up with stunning views of the Waveney valley. And the floodwater is encroaching here too.

Digital Image

There’s something scarily inexorable about water. Once it escapes riverbanks and drainage channels, there seems to be no stopping it.

I feel a bit like that about my husband’s dementia. I visited him yesterday afternoon. To continue the water/flood metaphor, it was as if the water had been safely/neatly channelled in pleasant manageable channels on my last visit. I’d even enjoyed the previous visit (though maybe the glass of white wine provided with my lunch helped!) – but this time it was as if I had been one of those overconfident Charlies who attempt to drive their cars through deepish water and get surprised when they’re swamped. And yes, this last time, I got swamped. And stupidly surprised.

It’s now almost 24 hours since the start of my visit. How could I forget it takes me 36 hours to recover? Just because this home is a much nicer place, a really good quality specialist provider of the care my husband needs, it doesn’t take away the fact of his dementia nor its destructive impact on us both.

But I’d forgotten. And as a result I have to sit in my swamped car and await rescue. My friends do their level best and I am grateful – for the lovely hugs, the phone calls, the Facebook messages, the thoroughly excellent caring advice. But there is no Fire Brigade or big farmer’s tractor coming to pull me out of the flood. The flood is where I am. All I can do is wait for the waters to go down. And they will. Till the next time.

One of the big problems for both the Waveney Valley and the Somerset Levels is that the land has become so saturated by so much rain for so long, that it takes very little more to create disaster rather than minor inconvenience. And it’s the same for any of us stuck in long-term situations where our emotions and our ability to cope went under a long time ago.

David Cameron promises dredging – when it’s safe enough – as a preventative for next time. Unsurprisingly, Somerset folk aren’t holding their breath!  For those of us who know that the waters aren’t going to go down – maybe for years – there are few answers.

I am a Christian. A woman of faith in Jesus Christ. But I’m finding it tough, I admit, to believe in a God of love and mercy who wants only the best for my life – while, frankly, I feel like I’m in a living hell. And as I look at my husband – and the other people in the home who are further down the dementia road than he is – my faith is sorely tested. Where is the mercy in this?

I can see the love – for these people are being looked after as lovingly, as kindly, as well as possible. And amazingly, I can feel God’s love for me, alongside me, right in the middle of the floods.

Stuff happens. He gave us free will and we made a hash of it. As a result there are horrible diseases, broken families, bad things in our world, and few if any of us manage to avoid at least some of them.

But God is still there. And He cares. He really does. So as I sit in my swamped car in the flood I drove into, I reckon the only thing to do is shift over into the passenger seat and let Him take the wheel.

But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you… ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.’ ” Isaiah 43:1-2a

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5 responses to “Water, water everywhere

  1. Amy says:

    “One of the big problems for both the Waveney Valley and the Somerset Levels is that the land has become so saturated by so much rain for so long, that it takes very little more to create disaster rather than minor inconvenience. And it’s the same for any of us stuck in long-term situations where our emotions and our ability to cope went under a long time ago.”

    Yes. This. Absolutely this.

  2. Anne Booth says:

    I really identify with this. It is so hard to explain to anyone not in a long term situation, how exhausting it is, and who pathetic we can feel when a relatively little thing floors us. It can feel like we are over reacting, but your analogy with the saturated Somerset Levels is so apt. That’s exactly how I feel tonight after a visit to Mum about taking her to the Day Centre tomorrow. It took such a lot of arranging and she asked to go, and now she is v reluctant. If I wasn’t saturated I would have felt so much nicer and kinder, instead I feel angry and then guilty and ashamed. Thanks for putting it in words. I think we all need to pray for each other. Keep going – be kind to yourself and let yourself recover. And I will try to let God take over – though I’m not quite sure how.

    • Hi Anne, you’re having a tough time too but you’re also doing your very best and getting saturated and overwhelmed too, so please be kind to yourself, don’t beat yourself up, and be ruthlessly honest with God. It helps. By the way I posted a YouTube video on Facebook of a song called Jesus take the wheel. A friend sent it and it made me howl but in a cathartic helping kind of way! It might help… Love and a big hug, xxx

  3. 20angel13 says:

    Hi Dorothy. i love your blog because you have the ability to be both honest and inspiring, a winning combination. I am not in a similar situation with watching the demise of a loved one, but I am under a lot of stress at work and deep getting ill as well.Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts so beautifully…

    • Dorothy Courtis says:

      Thank you. It can be scary being honest but I truly believe it needs to be done. Hope you find ways to live well despite the stress and illness. Bless you!

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