My battle with ill health often makes me selfish. Don’t get me wrong. I do love to make others happy. I do try to reach out to others to care for them. I do desire to jump on the band-wagon of life to whirl and twirl with the best of them. But my battle which chronic fatigue means that I need to pace myself out—all the time. If I spend one short hour walking around the shops, it means that I can’t do much the next day. If I spend a few hours on a bus ride to the city and back, my body creaks and groans for days to come. If I have a busy spell in life, I have to pay for it in pain and fatigue for a long time. It also means I sometimes hold back from helping a friend simply because I know I will pay heavily for it.
Take last week for instance. I’d planned to visit a special friend who was in hospital. She had few visitors so I was very keen to be there for her, but my body crashed in extreme fatigue and pain, so I couldn’t dream of going out. Today, exactly a week later, and feeling a bit better, I was determined to visit her.
I found that my friend had now been moved to a Nursing Home. Oh! I had to figure out how to get there. It wasn’t a difficult trip by any means. I confess with shame that even after close to seven years of driving, steering a car safely amdist traffic is still a challenge for me, especially to a new destination. I pored over google maps and managed to get the route worked out. Then, taking a deep breath and whispering a prayer for help, I pressed the accelerator and sped off in my little blue car. God was good. The right turn I had trembled over was super easy because the roads were clear. Hooray! The traffic was light all the way. Yay! I did make a wrong turn ... and did a U turn to get back on track. Finally, I found the right road. But then I hit a snag. I wandered around trying to find Unit 413. There wasn’t one. I turned my car back and asked a passer by for help.
Once inside, I did quite well … but where oh where was room 413? Yes, you guessed it. I had to ask someone. I reached the right room at last. My gorgeous 94 year old friend smiled and held my hands when she saw me. She was feeling nervous and disoriented in a new place – naturally, so I was glad I made it. Her son and daughter in law were grateful that I’d come. When I explained why I couldn’t come earlier—her daughter in law’s response blessed me. She too suffers from chronic illness so she fully understood.
On my way out, I got entangled in my merry-go-round routine once again. I walked in circles inside the Nursing home, getting further and further away from the entrance—trying different exit signs till I finally stopped to ask someone how to get out. Whew. My drive back home posed no problems as I breathed a prayer all the way home. When I turned into our road, I thanked God for a safe drive and a good visit. Ah! But what a lot it took out of me!
My friend’s daughter in law blessed me by understanding why I couldn’t come more often. If she realised that the drive was also a challenge, she might have been surprised but all the more sympathetic. My struggles reminded me that different things are difficult for different people. Most people wouldn’t find driving a challenge. But maybe something else is. There might be someone who's had a hard life, so even smiling is hard work. Another might find being in crowds overwhelming. Another might find keeping good relationships trying. Each of us have our own hangups, our own personalities and our own weaknesses, don’t we?
What a wonderful world it would be if everyone was accepting and gracious about each others’ foibles. It’s so easy to judge someone without knowing their full story. I’m glad I wasn’t judged today. May I be full of grace and understanding towards anyone who needs it.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Collosians 3:12-14