Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A helpless old woman? Or a mistaken young girl?

I know I've neglected you lately, but it hasn't been for lack of post ideas. I've had many things I wanted to write, but I put them off, because I know I promised you a post about beans.

Who cares, right? I doubt any of you are biting your nails or losing sleep at night, waiting for Amber to post about beans.

So, if you'll forgive me for putting that off until another time, we'll continue on different strain of conversation. (Actually, I have a special surprise concerning kitchen posts, but that's for later.)

I want to tell you about my day.

At the moment, my day is terrible. This morning I would have told you my day was fantastic. Mid-afternoon, I would have said it was fine.

Funny, isn't it, how we rate our days by moments? In reality, my day isn't good or bad - it's just there. It's a span of time. God chooses - and, to a degree, I choose - what it is filled with, and those things can be good or bad..

So when I was filled with thoughts of praise and thanksgiving, it wasn't my day that was fantastic; it was my actions toward God that made me happy...or, rather, the spirit of gladness He sent into my heart that made me happy. And when my dog was making my heart ache, it wasn't my day that was rotten; it was my reaction to circumstances that was awful.

And now, a few moments later, my day is good again. I'm so changeable. ...I'm glad God never changes.

But on to my day. I must hurry, or I'll be out of time to write.

Mom and my youngest sister were planning a visit to a nursing home this morning, to carol there with another family of young girls from our church. For one reason or another, all our other family members weren't going, just Mom and Lezley, and I had planned to stay home as well.

I hate confessing it, but I have an aversion to nursing homes. They can be depressing...and hot...and sad. In my mind, they are full of deserted parents - people who have been turned over to the care of strangers because their own family wouldn't take time to be there for them when the going got tough. Of course, it's easy for me to say that because I've never faced that situation, but I am deeply passionate about children caring for their parents in old age if it is at ALL possible, not dumping them off on an institution just because it's inconvenient to have them around, or they are boring to you. I hate seeing the loneliness in the eyes. I hate seeing the physical suffering. I hate having to shout to be heard (would you believe I'm shy?). Most of all, I hate the artificial atmosphere of a place that is populated by a single, solitary, age category. It's so unnatural....and unhealthy. Like should be a flavorful mix of all ages, interacting and loving and learning from one another. Isolation of separate ages is unhealthy and unhelpful - whether it's a classroom of several dozen 9-year olds, or a nursing home full of 90-year olds.

Okay. Jump off soapbox now.

With all my passion about the topic, one would think I'd jump at every chance to visit these forsaken older folks. Uhh....not so. I chicken out. I hate seeing what I cannot change. I hate to admit it, but I'm being honest here.

So I wasn't planning on going.

During my morning devotion time, however, the Lord spoke to my heart (O, how wonderful to hear His dear voice!) and impressed upon me that I needed to go. I needed to be His hands and voice, loving these folks.

So I went. Cringing, but trusting Him to get me through it. And you know what? That's all I could think about - being His hands and voice. I had no time to be shy. I had no time to think about whether I was comfortable or not. All I could think about was loving those dear people the way He did.

And I liked it. I actually had fun. ME - having fun in a nursing home! I am positive it was the Holy Spirit giving me the ability to do something I can't do on my own.

 But all of this still isn't what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you about a woman I met there. I just wanted you to first understand how close I came to not meeting her. What if I hadn't obeyed that still small voice, and gone caroling? 

I met her after we finished singing, and were going around the room passing out little gifts and talking with the residents. She was dressed neatly and sat up with a bright twinkle in her eye and a small smile that popped out every now and then. We talked about churches. I told her about mine. She told me she knew my pastor. I asked if she ever went to church now, and she told me about the pastor who comes to do services there. He has a church elsewhere, but he gives of his time every Sunday to come preach to them.

"But we have Bible Study here, too!" she told me. She picked up her Bible, which lay on a table nearby. "We are almost done - see? We just have a little bit left for the year," she said, indicating the red bookmark that must have laid somewhere in Revelation.

I was surprised that a secular nursing home would have a Bible Study on their daily events list.

Then I found out that she led the study. She said she talks to a group of about 20 every day, reading a bit of scripture, and explaining what she can. She encourages people to come to the services on Sundays, and could see for myself that she interacts kindly with her fellow residents.

I first laid eyes on this woman with pity. A lonely old lady, shut up in a nursing home, away from life, condemned to a life of boredom and half-existence until old age is finished with her.

What a un-Christian worldview I can find myself endorsing sometimes! How could I honestly think that the life of a Christian - ANY Christian - could be worthless? How could I forget that God always has a job for His children, while they are still on this earth? Shame, shame on me!

When I left that place, I felt no pity for that woman; only awe. I was humbled by her ministry, and her determination to bloom where God has planted her. And indeed, she was blooming. She stood out from the others like a rose among clover.

May I be as fully engaged in my Master's service as she is, when I am her age!

Forget that....

May I be as dedicated to His service right NOW, and right HERE, as she is where she is right NOW and right HERE!