Have you ever experienced an act of genuine care toward you by others? To take that question one step deeper was the genuine care and concern from someone who really didn’t know you all that well? After all, it is easy to give love and care and concern to someone we know and love well. But what about care from someone who knows of you but isn’t close enough to you to send a Christmas card or even know what month your birthday falls? Doctors and nurses do this every day, but they are not the focus of my writing. For that sector of people, the care and concern they give is their job and they receive monetary compensation for it. Over the years I’ve had several instances where someone or some others have done something to show they are thinking of me and care about me. Most of the time, these acts of care are from friends who know I am going through a rough patch of life. One friend in particular comes to mind when I look back on the months leading up to what appeared to be the end of my marriage. She was such a blessing in my life. I knew I could call or stop by unannounced if I needed to talk or get away from what was happening at home. I will be forever grateful for her willingness to be there for me. Again, though, she was a friend before the hard times really hit. This past weekend, I found myself cared for by people who I knew and they knew me, yet we had never carried on a conversation or made small talk about anything. I see them once a week at church and could nod and say hello, but that was the extent of the conversation.
Until this past Sunday.
The last two weeks have been the most difficult I have had since my MS diagnosis. There have been days that getting out of bed took every ounce of energy I had and once I was up, I found myself right back with my head on the pillow. Exhaustion doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. In addition to that, regardless of whether I was sitting, standing or laying down, I was dizzy—and I mean dizzy. Walking, already difficult due to neuropathy in my foot, became not only more difficult, but also dangerous given that at any time I could lose my balance and fall. In fact, on a few occasions I did fall. My eyes hurt as did the right side of my face as shooting pains would start in my ear and bolt down into my cheek and jaw. I had what many would think was a very bad toothache even though, for me, that couldn’t be since I have no nerves left in the tooth that the pain was near. My husband was concerned. I can usually roll with the MS symptoms when they hit but this time, even I was concerned—concerned enough to schedule an appointment with my doctor. The news from that appointment was not good. Discouragement came quickly. My husband sent an e-mail to the associate pastor at our church. This pastor has shown much concern for us as we walk this difficult road and had actually asked my husband to update him after the appointment. After reading the depressing update, he once again expressed how sorry he was for what I was going through and asked if we would be willing to have some of the elders of our church pray with and for me/us. To say yes to that was a bit uncomfortable for me. I knew if I submitted to that request, there would most certainly be tears and I didn’t want to cry in front of others. I was reassured that it would be okay if tears came.
Sunday morning we barely made it to church. Between the thick fog that had settled due to warm air over our snow pack and the horrible effects of the new medication I had started the night before, staying home was a much better option. But, I needed to take care of another matter there so I forced myself out of bed, sent a quick prayer to God that I would be able to make it through the service without getting sick from the vertigo, and we headed off to church. As usual, the pastor’s message seemed to speak right at me. (I hate when that happens!) Right after the service we were asked to go to the prayer room where a group of elders along with the associate pastor would meet us for prayer. I sat down at one of the desks in the room and literally had to lay my head down or I felt like I would pass out. I can’t even tell you who all was there. What I can say, though, is I was blown away by their care. Part of it was the fact that they took the time to pray for me. Beyond that, though, I was amazed at how they didn’t seem to view this as just part of their job as elders. They didn’t pray just to get it over with. They prayed with conviction and even emotion. I truly believe they prayed because they cared—not just because they were asked to. As the elders left, the associate pastor stayed to help sort out some of the issues we are facing medically. He stayed with me while my husband went and moved the car so I wouldn’t have to walk as far. He then helped my husband get me from the prayer room to the front door where the car was parked. I was so dizzy I couldn’t lift my head to see where I was going so it was reassuring to know I had a caring hand on both sides of me.
The Bible tells us to bear one another’s burdens. Right now, I feel like a burden to everyone. In fact, my MS has cost me some friendships it seems. I don’t blame people who feel the need to distance themselves from me right now. Most want to do something and I’m not really sure what anyone can do. But, I am SO thankful to belong to a church where people don’t shy away from the tough stuff. Sunday, those elders chose to walk into the waters of pain and misery with me. My husband makes that choice every day. Sometimes I feel like people would be better off if I wasn’t around. I’m not sure if that is correct thinking or not, but it is my thinking much of the time. This past Sunday, if only for a short time, I didn’t feel quite so alone…I didn’t feel like my husband had to shoulder the whole weight. I am thankful for those who were willing to shoulder some of it with him. My disease is always in my face—taunting me with all the things I can no longer do. It was a refreshing change to have some of the weight lifted not only off of me for a bit, but also off of my husband. God may have chosen to not heal me at this point in time, but He has been gracious to put me in a place where people care about me…people who really don’t know me but want to do what they can to ease the load even just a little. I regret that I didn’t really get a chance to thank those who came to that prayer room Sunday, but I hope they realize not only how touched I was by their actions, but also how my faith, something that has been very weak, grew a little bit that day.