Sometimes we gain the most from the people who have the least to give.
I stepped out of my mother’s house into the blazing summer heat feeling like a cloth twisted and wrung out, emerging flattened, from an old-fashioned washing machine. I had spent most of the last week at the hospital sitting at the bedside of my 90-year-old mother, who had experienced a potentially serious health issue, and I had just gotten her settled back into her home.
I stepped into my car, turned the key, and thought to myself, “Hallelujah…no more hospital room! For a while anyway.”
You see, I don’t like hospitals. I am germ-phobic and sensitive to weird smells… and the whole medical/surgical atmosphere gives me the “heebie-jeebies”. Therefore, hospital rooms are among my least favorite places.
My mother is extremely hard of hearing and has very poor eyesight so she needed me to facilitate communication with the nursing staff and doctors, to help her with her personal needs, and to lend moral support. As her devoted, (and only) daughter, I obliged.
As I sat there rigidly perched in the green vinyl recliner in the corner, like a bird on a wire, mouth closed tight so as not to breath in any extra germs, I thought of what it must be like to be her–almost entirely dependent on others…losing her eyesight and hearing at an ever-increasing rate.
I wondered which was worse, to lose ones physical mobility, hearing, and sight? Or to slowly lose one’s memory and mental function. Neither is a walk in the park. (Mom is still as sharp as a tack…hours of crossword puzzles and reading books has no doubt helped with that!) It can be hard to watch as our parents slowly decline, losing their health, strength, and vitality–a foreshadowing of what is to come.
I sat there in the corner, watching the slow drip of the IV– physically and emotionally drained and petrified of picking up a super-germ! So far, my schedule had been turned upside-down, my house had fallen into disarray, and my family had gone several nights without dinner. It had not been an easy week.
As each day passed I came precariously close to falling off the cliff of self-pity.
After several tests and a procedure or two, my mother’s health issues were resolved and she got better thanks to the prayers of friends and the mercy of God. Five days after entering the hospital, we gathered her things, said goodbye to the nurses and headed home. She was so glad to sleep in her own bed. And I was so glad that this health crisis had been averted.
That first night after mom got home, I had a revelation. Even though I was exhausted and emotionally stressed, I realized that God had given me a great blessing that week. He had given me the opportunity to do something for someone who could in no way do anything in return. What a gift that is in a life…my life… that is so often about me!
It’s the same feeling I, and others, experience on mission trips when we go to minister to orphans or the elderly. You know going in that it will drain you, inconvenience you, and test you to the limit. Yet, you go. And God blesses you beyond measure, in ways that you never would have imagined. How tragic to go through life and never experience the blessing of totally spending oneself for another human being–of serving another out of selfless love.
My mother devoted her life to her family and to her Savior–a life well-lived. Now she is pressing on into her 90’s–continuing to be a blessing to all who know her. I am grateful to be her daughter and to still have her hand to hold after 90 years. I thank God for the privilege of ministering to her in her time of need. And for God’s protection from those nasty super-bugs!
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 (NIV)
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35 (NIV, Paul speaking)
“The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 (NKJV)