photo courtesy of: http://shaswa.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/help-yourself-by-helping-others/
“What can I do to help?”
It was a simple question, but one for which I didn’t have an answer. The fact that my friend asked in the first place; this was enough. Her gesture, her words, they showed me how much she cares. That was what I really needed. But I got more; days later she brought me food, wine and conversation.
Last week was rough. The skies opened up yet again to release 8 inches of snow on top of the 6+ we already have on the ground. The day of the storm the temperatures dropped, the winds blew fiercely and travel was nearly impossible. My mother found herself in the hospital and my father found himself sliding off an icy road and into a ditch. All this in the same night.
The days that followed were spent at the hospital, where my entire family waited. We waited for doctor’s reports, waited for test results and waited for my mom to get better. Really, we were waiting for our lives to get back to normal.
In weeks like this one, weeks where everything in my life feels beyond my control, I reach out and hold onto my faith. In all honesty, sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I blame no one but myself. Because sometimes, I cannot let go of my circumstances. I want so badly to take charge, to control my outcome, to fix things by myself. So much so that I don’t perceive or accept the care, the peace, the help God offers me. Instead, with my go-to attitude, I hold tightly to my burdens. And there I stand, my back aching from the weight, waiting for God to do things my way. Never a good idea.
But in this week it was too much to carry. This week, I gave it all to God right in the middle of that snowstorm and hospitalization and car wreck. And guess what, as awful as my week was, I also felt a sense of peace. I felt a preternatural sense of love and I knew I wasn’t alone. And as strange as it is to say, I even saw beauty within that storm. Because as I later pondered all that had happened, I saw how God had prepared for this time. The circumstances of my week weren’t pretty, but God gave me everything I needed to get through them.
God gave me words. For months I’ve been searching for a new devotional. Something I can read quickly and easily each morning. But no…I’ve searched and searched and okay, maybe I’m picky, but nothing quite fit. Too long. Too short. Too verse-y. Too fluffy. Too random. But recently I ordered a book I found on Amazon. It arrived just days before my mom landed in the hospital. And from the day I got it, I’ve loved each day’s devotional. The book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is simple yet profound.
Young writes her devotionals in first person; it is as if Jesus himself is speaking to you. Teaching you. Reminding you how much he cares. The night my mom went into the hospital, I re-read the devotional I’d (naively) read earlier that day. Here is part of what it said:
Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning… The best way to get through this day is step by step with Me.
Words, delivered by Young but from God, to soothe my weary soul.
God gave me people who care. Just two weeks ago, God allowed me a time of rest in a getaway with girlfriends. In that weekend I realized this: we bond with others through sharing. I’m an introvert. I often keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. I’d rather our conversation be about you, than me. And this is okay, most of the time. But when I am hurting, when I need the support of others; I must risk sharing.
Why? Because it helps. We are not meant to carry our burdens alone. The support of others is a blessing, it makes our load more bearable. That trip prepared me to share, to risk letting others know things were rough. And I learned that when I do, others let me know they care. People care. I am never alone. (That meal and wine helped too).
God gave me angels to intervene. When my Dad left the hospital to drive home that night, he took a wrong turn. He got lost and slid off a country road in the worst part of the storm. It was dark, windy, and snowing and there were few vehicles on the road due to the travel emergency.
But a man with truck happened to drive the same road my father was on. A man who was kind enough to stop when he found my father (who doesn’t use a cell phone) sitting in his car. A man who then called 911 and stayed until the police arrived. A man who also stayed until we arrived, and then towed my father’s car out of the ditch so we could get him home.
I believe God works through people. And while this man may not be an angel by the true definition of the word, he is a man on earth doing God’s work. He made a difference in the outcome of this situation, my situation; he deserves the title. He was but one of many people who’s kindness made a difference in my week.
Words to get me through.
Friends and family members offering their support and care.
Strangers making a difference in my world.
God, orchestrating it all.
It is so reassuring to know that we are never, ever truly alone. Have you ever felt God’s presence in a storm?