Bleary-eyed, I came in the kitchen today with my first thought: “What will I accomplish today?” What was worse, I was saying aloud to my husband, “I didn’t really do anything yesterday…”
At the same moment, I realized what I said…it wasn’t true, and my husband knew it also. Yesterday I did the very thing God asked…to encourage.
I went visiting.
For me, it takes a lot of mental strength to visit a nursing facility. It is mostly because of memories. I watched my own grandmother retreat into herself and fade away in a short time. But physically, it’s the smell of Ensure everywhere—as if they clean the floors with it. Ensure triggers memories. But it’s all the smells…then the looks…
White-haired, bent over people, asleep in the dining room chairs and it’s 10:30 in the morning. I saw angry people, sad people, and all shells of who they once were.
My aunt looked remarkably changed since I had seen her last, and she had a very painful weekend. She was so anxious it was difficult to have a bit of conversation. She cursed, and fidgeted the whole time. Every part of her was conscious of the aches and pains in her body, and it was her only focus.
I went away discouraged, as if I had done nothing to assist her, no comfort for her pain. Teary-eyed, I drove away with thoughts of the depressing end of life for those who have to go there.
I made an unscheduled stop and talked with a relative who had no physical pain, but pain was of the heart. She was hurting…a culmination of many years of hurt, which came to a turning point.
Did I listen—yes. Did I encourage?
I hope so.
I am compelled to visit, even though nursing facilities are hardest; and every time I come away drained. Does it matter to me? What matters is that I went along with God’s plan that day and not my expectations.
Why do I constantly worry about whether I am of any use or not? It only turns into a inward focus instead of resting on God. Why do we constantly think he expects so much from us…more than we possibly can give?
This morning when I had the short discussion with the Umpire, I thought about yesterday. I went with expectations of encouragement, but I realized the results are not up to me. I just had to be willing to go.
All morning I’ve been thinking about Old Testament traditions. Laws set forth that no one could possibly keep in order to please God. That’s enough to recognize that we can work hard forever and always fall short.
But then Christ came and took care of the law, and yet we have years of church traditions, right down to the order of morning service, how many hymns to sing, and how many times we go to church in a week. I wonder if this is what God had in mind.
The traditional roles of men and women and how we perceive their roles in life are far different from when I was a child. Women were meant to be keepers at home, make babies and pretty much not have intelligent opinions. We are not so far removed from this thinking, but I realize how it is instilled in me to keep this regimen.
The Umpire never demands that dinner is laid out when he gets home. Even if I got behind in cleaning, or errands, he doesn’t get angry, or ask why it’s not done. Then why do I think I have to “keep up” these traditions of keeping a perfect house?
Why should I only feel worthy if I am doing it?
Why do I get stuck in these ruts and think it is my only purpose in life?
Because we learned these things when we were young and and it sticks to us hard. It’s easy to keep up repeating the same thing, instead of thinking out of the box.
But it’s not living freely…it’s not living lightly. It’s not asking God what he wants of us each day. It’s not rest, and it is definitely—boring.
Maybe we need to rethink all these learned practices, or rather…each morning ask what God has planned for the day and be flexible!
Live freely and lightly! Honor God in all you do and know that doing what he requires of you is real living.