Futility and greatness

Life feels futile today.

What’s the point in all my striving if I’m just going to end up like my grandmother – a senile old woman who couldn’t even remember the people who love her most when she died last week?

Some days I feel like life would be better spent curled up on a couch with a big pile of library books, losing myself in other people’s stories, avoiding writing my own. But I am too restless to stay there long, my mind can’t help but keep churning, seeking what lie beyond the easy answers. God did not give me a lethargic or restful soul, despite my procrastination skills.

All my strivings seem worthless, yet something in me is yearning to achieve somethings, to make a difference somewhere, to rebel against this claim of futility by daring to leave something behind. I don’t know what legacy my grandmother has left me, what remains of her now that both memories and body are left empty.

Society invites us to leave our legacy, to be great at something, to stand head and shoulders above other people, to have a name that sticks in people’s minds long after we’re dead and gone. But that is not greatness in the kingdom of God. There, greatness is bending low, chipping in in the invisible spaces again and again and again, repeatedly turning to face God and leaning in.


Staring into the maw of death is not a comfortable experience. My husband keeps saying it is the circle of life, but it leaves me wondering: when I am that age, when nothing of what makes ‘me’ remains, what will be left? Two of my grandparents have now travelled the path of dementia to death, and I have the upmost respect and gratitude for those who cared for them in their final years, who respected them as people even though they could no longer remember who or what they had been. I can only pray that if I follow their path, that I too might be surrounded by people who consider me worthy of care and dignity, even if I rant and rave, even if I throw tantrums like a two-year-old in an adult body.

Is it pride that asks for my mind to remain undiminished? Such foolishness! I was born of dust, and I belong to God in any shape or form that God will take me. Even when the dust is losing cohesion, God can still use me, still work in and through me. I do not cease to be invited to play a part in God’s story just because my mind is failing, just as my physical failings now do not discount me.

Having no will of my own, but to obey God’s is enough. All else does not matter, it can be worked with. Haven’t I laid myself bare and asked God to break me down? Could I accept it if that meant dementia? God can work through a senile old woman. God could probably work through her more easily than me today, there is less to get in the way.

Somehow there is still a tendril of hope in this brokenness, but only when I am lost in God’s heart. And there, does it matter who or what I am? God loves me, and that is enough.


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