Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stories of Strength to learn from

This week I was reminded how strong human beings are, when the grace of God is allowed to move in their lives. 

An older gentleman that I have known well for about 10 years recently shared a story with me about his life as a young man.  The story was a painful one …filled with rejection, sadness, death, depression and loneliness. To hear the story, you would think that no human could overcome it; it was just that sad.  To know this man, you would have never guessed the pain he has endured all these years.  He is successful, hardworking, creative, respected and loved by many.  He goes about his work in a quiet, unassuming way, never making any waves and gently doing what he does best.  He has dedicated his life to bringing the beauty of God to people every day and does it without much fanfare or thanks.  I was shocked at the deep, deep, anguish of his story, but marveled more at how he overcame the darkness and found his way through to the light.  While his life is not easy, it is clear in knowing this man that he knows the heart and grace of God well.  He has lived it and has been touched by it. 

My mother called me this week to let me know that a neighbor of hers was on her last days of life. Her name is Peg. Breast Cancer had gotten the best of Peg and my mother was her only source of life outside of chemo.  I did not know Peg personally, but knew that my mother had taken Peg “under her wing” when she found out how sick she was.  Peg had no husband, but four kids who wanted little to do with her; they had their own “issues”.  It was another sad story.  For the last two years, my mom had been driving Peg to the beauty shop, taking her to lunch, sitting at the hospital with her, going grocery shopping for her and (being a breast cancer survivor herself) gave her words and prayers of hope to go on.   And while my mom did not “know her well” she freely gave her time to make Peg’s last year of life bearable.  Peg’s daughter was the only one who regularly came to check on her mother, but could not stand to see her in such a state, so my mom would send her home and sit with Peg.  Yesterday, on what may have been Peg’s last day on this earth, her sons reluctantly came to say their goodbyes…they were outwardly indifferent to their mom’s plight but still, my mom would patiently talk with Peg’s kids and give them words of love and support.  “Mom ”, I said, “How can you just sit there and watch Peg die?  How can you deal with all the dysfunction of Peg’s kids and stand so strong?”  My mom in all her wisdom said, “This is what I do.  I am just called to do this for those who are in need. I plan to be there when God takes Peg home, Georgie…how could I not?”  

I feel like such a lightweight compared to people like this, but at the same time I know that God is teaching me a lesson through their stories. It is how I live my life after knowing such stories that is important. That when times are dark, and those days will surely come, the grace of God will give me strength to make it through.

 I have proof.

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