Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Not About Me

In 1989, my husband of 10 years became seriously ill.  He had an emergency surgery and recovered at home for a couple months.  But my world had been shaken.  I had been a homemaker for 10 years and now had an infant soon.  Stark reality had been shocking....I had a baby to raise.  Alone, should something happen to my husband.  So I did what is sadly kind of typical for me.  I panicked and then enrolled in nursing school.

There were things I learned in nursing school that has served me well.  Things that have nothing to do with medicine.  I learned I am not a dumb blonde.  I learned I can learn and retain complicated procedures.  I can follow directions. I am capable, and can make decisions.  I know how to research and educate myself in new situations.   I have a deep well of compassion.  While there are still shortcomings that make up who I am...I am grateful I was given the opportunity to learn these things about myself.

But the culture I found myself was very different than how I was raised, behaved and socialized.  I was raised in a Christian home and even when I didn't believe...I still behaved.  I was immersed in a culture that claimed science trumps faith.  Secularism was political correct.  Profanity was accepted and encouraged.  Fidelity was mocked.  Society in America act (and believe) their personal rights supercede the rights of anyone else. It has made us morally corrupt, insensitive, vulgar, paranoid, and abusive.  Free will was protected by amendments at the expense of our humanity.

My basic personality did not change.  I didn't become a swearing, lecherous party machine.  But raised that people living outside of faith couldn't be happy, I saw a lot of new friends who at least looked happy.  I walked away from my faith in God at the point believing that I could control my destiny as well as God had up to that point.  I didn't have faith He knew what he was doing as far as I was concerned....or perhaps just didn't really care.

It was the suicide death of a fellow nurse that brought me back to my knees.  Living outside my faith had only brought me stress, paranoia and anxiety.  One late night, I came face to face with God and what I felt was my "last chance".  I chose faith.

It was later working as a church secretary that I shared with the pastor how far I ran from God in that time.  I told him I wondered if it had ever been God's will for me to go to nursing school.  He asked me a few questions...

In your years working at the hospital was there ever a special patient that you KNOW you ministered to?  One that you KNOW you touched their life in a positive, permanent way?

And yes, there were several that came to mind.  The woman with the miscarriage.  The young teen with the unsupportive parents.  The successful couple who nearly lost their baby in childbirth, but bravely did what we instructed because I had previously warned them...this is how we roll if we see these signs.  So I told Pastor Bean these things.

He asked me, "Do you believe God loves them enough to send you to nursing school, so you'd be there to minister to just them in their time of need?"

It was disconcerting but I agreed...I believe God loves us that much.

It was years later, conflict arose in the congregation and this man of God was forced out by controlling families.  As we packed up his office, he grieved and told me, "I was so certain God called us here to this church.  Now I'm being ran out.  How could I have been sooo wrong?"

I stood up at him and asked,

In your years pastoring this church was there ever anyone that you KNOW you ministered to?  One that you KNOW you touched their life in a positive, permanent way?

He hung his head and sighed as he told me "Well I'd like to think so anyway."

I shook my head at him and with my hands on my hips I told him, "We both know that the reason my husband and I are here in this church now, is the ministry of you and your wife.  No one else bothered to reach out.  So tell me Pastor, does God love us enough that He would have sent you here, even if it was just for us?"

He stared hard for a moment and then grinned as he told me, "It's a humbling thing to have one of your parishioners quote your own sermon back to you."  He began to whistle as we finished packing his office.

I learned something that day and I suspect he did as well.

It's not always about me.

Sometimes the choices, trials, challenges and even misery we go through is not for our benefit but for those whose lives we touch.  I may think I'm being mistreated.  That I strayed from God's best for me.  But it's just as possible that I am here, right now, in the thick of battle because I am touching someone else's life in a way that God needed ME to do.


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