Both a Gift and a Challenge
by Kay Nuyens
The Holy Spirit
teaches that you always meet yourself,
and the encounter
is holy because you are.
I never really thought that I belonged to a
dysfunctional family. It seemed normal enough. Yet, as I
gain in wisdom and understanding, I realize that a lot
was missing in our family relationships. None of us were
close. We all lived in our own little world. My mom died
in October after suffering many years of Alzheimerís.
It was living through this painful experience that I
could move into more love and compassion for my parents.
It was scary when mom was first diagnosed with
Alzheimerís, then soon I realized it was a gift that
she had given herself. In the book, Feelings Buried
Alive Never Die, Karl Truman shares the probable
feelings behind this disease. I believed they fit
perfectly with what mom dealt with all her life:
"tired of coping, canít face life anymore, feels
unable to be in control of own life, feelings of
inferiority and insecurity, suppressed anger, wants to
live in own little world and feelings of helplessness
and hopelessness." We are not victims. We are
co-creators with God. I believe that mom chose this
disease to give herself a gift of "internal,
spiritual time." This disease was an opportunity to
assist her in eliminating some of the blockages and
self-limiting patterns with which she defined herself.
Once I was able to change my perception of this
"disease," I realized this was an opportunity
for healing. I was in awe at the powerful choices we
have as humans.
Watching someone you love move through the stages of
Alzheimerís was still a very painful experience, even
though there was a gift in it. Dad would be upset with
the obscenities that Mom used consistently; yet it made me
smile. These were feelings that Mom had pushed down all
her life. I believe that she never allowed herself to
get in touch with her real feelings because it was much
too frightening. Mom was disappointed with her life
choices and tried to live with them rather than create
the changes that she would have preferred. Under the
guise of Alzheimerís, mom could release all these
negativities. Painful as it was to watch, the other part
of me was cheering her on! Near the ending stages of momís
illness, the nurses were concerned about her screaming.
I shared that I believed that mom was finding herself in
between dimensions; she was scared because she did not
realize where she was. I knew that all was well and mom
was just doing her work here on earth. She was resolving
some of her earthly issues before moving into the
One of my gifts during this experience with my mom
was a better relationship with my dad. My dad had always
challenged me. I perceived my dad as strict,
uncompromising and demanding. I was afraid of him.
Though I always knew that I was loved, it felt
conditional. My parents seemed to believe that
well-behaved, unspoken, conforming kids were an
indication of how good their parenting skills were, but
I believe that it was at the cost of broken spirits.
Always wanting to please to feel loved, I grew up to be
a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. Rather than
encouraging and nourishing different perspectives on
things, my parents controlled us by scolding,
threatening and punishing. I acted out of fear and didnít
let my parents into my world.
My dad is now eighty-two years young. Our roles have
reversed over the years. I know and respect my dad on a
much different level now, and I truly honor who I know
him to be in present time. My husband, Tom, and I have
experienced dad becoming much more mellow. Lifeís
experiences have a way of creating changes in the world
around us. These changes often force us to look at life
differently. When dad had to finally put mom into a
nursing home, the world as he knew it, came tumbling
down. It was so admirable to note how much patience he
developed as he watched mom lose more of her capacity
for life. He showed such gentleness and a kindness that
I had not previously witnessed. Faithfully and
untiringly, I watched dad assist mom in her personal
care. Witnessing his unconditional love was new for me
and forever changed my perception of my dad.
Being a daughter has been both a challenge and a
gift. As I was growing up, I didnít always appreciate
my dad. How could I understand that his challenge, his
rigidity stemmed from the fact that his own childhood
was devoid of love and nurturing? I realize now that dad
did the best he could as a father. I considered his
unhealed issues from a childhood he chose not to share
with us. His expectations for us were greater than he
was able to experience, so he worked hard to provide a
life for us that was more comfortable than his own
childhood. Dad was strict because he wanted to bring out
the best in us. Compassion and forgiveness grew as I
looked at this experience through different eyes. My
perception of him has changed. The fear is gone. I can
love him now.
There is a powerful old Buddhist teaching tale
sharing the significance of our perceptions. When the
Chinese get married, the wife would go to the home of
the husband to live with his family. In this story,
Milata, hated her father-in-law! She found him to be
ornery, negative, small minded and critical and she grew
in resentment of him. After 6-7 years she made a
decision. She was going to kill him! She decided she
would use arsenic because it was a poison that could not
be detected by taste, and it would be easy to lace his
food with it.
She went to the spiritual leader of the community to
let him know her intent. Everyone knew what a mean,
nasty man her father-in-law was to her. She told the
master that she had a plan to kill him with arsenic, but
she wanted to be sure that there was nothing she was not
seeing. This wise man listened intently to Milata, and
asked her to tell him again how difficult it was to live
with her husbandís father. Finally he agreed that it
was right for her to kill him. But he advised her not to
put all the arsenic in one meal because everyone knew it
was a difficult relationship--and she would become a
suspect if her father-in-law died suddenly. He advised
her to wait for thirty to forty days. During this time
he suggested that Milata be VERY kind to her
father-in-law. She should tell him how wonderful he is,
how helpful he is, how much she appreciates himÖ so
that people will see that they are learning to get along
together. He asked her to come back to him in forty days
and they will make a plan together. After ninety days
passed, the spiritual leader saw Milata in town. He
reminded her that she never returned to see him about
the plan. Milata just looked at him quizzically. When he
reminded her of the plan to kill her father-in-law, she
laughed. Milata reported that he had turned into the
sweetest, kindest, most helpful person you would ever
want to know!
When we give love, it changes our perception.
This is a spiritual law. We enter into the alignment of
who we really are, divine beings. This is how God made
us. When we plant seeds of kindness, compassion and
love, the seeds produce the fruit that it is. We canít
keep the harvest from growing! So when we give
love, attention and appreciation to the people we
love--we experience the greater good as we become the
good. We are wired to experience a greater good in our
life. It reminds me of the Disney commercial--Magic
Happens! Difficult people challenge us to grow.
I believe that all moments were meant to happen.
Nothing happens by chance. The design is perfect.
Altering our own perceptions is what brings us peace.
Everything in our life becomes a blessing. Love
In my book, Invitation to Greatness, I see
ourselves as actors and actresses on the stage of life.
I believe that at some level, we select the people and
situations in our lives to be our teachers--our
challenges and our gifts. It is all a script created by
our wise mind to remind us of our origin, our connection
to the Divine. The real purpose of our existence is
"Remembering" who we areÖ
Life; My Script
From Invitation to Greatness by Kay
We can look at
our life as a movie script. In each moment we experience
a different frame in our creative process. Since we
co-created this script, we are not victims. We are
powerful souls. Actually, we can edit our lifeís drama
any time through our conscious choices.
I love my
present script! Though sometimes I wish I would have had
the foresight to eliminate some of the past scenes. And
Iíd like to deny inviting certain characters to play
particular roles... Yet I know they are wearing
"their destined disguises" and are actually
gifts to me, helping me to remember who I am.
I am not yet ready for the
ending scenes. I am still in the process of
"becoming" and evolving as a character... but
I predict the grand finale will be a loving continuum.
Families come together as a mirror for our own
introspection to help us find the hidden pieces. All
moments were meant to happen. Nothing happens by chance.
The design is perfect. Altering our own perceptions is
what brings us peace. Everything in our life becomes a
blessing. Love transforms. We were able to celebrate Momís
transition into the spiritual realm.
Within a few months my dad married a widow of
twenty-six years whom he met at church Bingo. She is
eighty six, a spunky, healthy woman who makes us all
laugh. I believe she came into my dadís life to allow
his heart to open a little more. Love is always a good
©Copyright 2002 Kay Nuyens. All Rights Reserved.
Kay Nuyens spent
twenty-five years teaching and counseling in the public
schools before buying early retirement in 1998. She has
manifested a new, more joyful and fulfilling life for
herself. She is now a certified clinical hypnotherapist,
author, speaker, teacher and a certified JOY
Practitioner, assisting struggling students to feel
successful. Her goal is to empower people to find their
inner connection, healing issues through awareness,
compassion and the power of love. Kay offers private
sessions, personal growth classes and workshops.
Her new book, "Invitation
to Greatness" is a workbook for personal growth. It
contains a treasure trove of exercises for inner
reflection, self-expression, clearing blocks and
creating new patterns. It is a personal journey to
discover your inner healer, your own loving essence.
Learn specific healing techniques to gain emotional
freedom and peace of mind. Discover how YOU can create a
successful life script! (www.changingfocus.net)