This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
Ms. Jennie has had a rough time lately. She is the 85 year old lady from New York who lives in a local nursing home and who my family spends time with each week. About a month ago, she developed pneumonia. She had not been sick, but she woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe. She has been on oxygen off and on for the last several weeks.
She’s also had hip problems. Her hip has been hurting her alot, and she’s been taking pain medicine that makes her groggy. She has to shift positions often because of her hip.
During the last few weeks, when we’ve visited her, we’ve been unable to stay for very long because of her breathing problems, or because her hip was hurting, or because she became groggy from her pain medicine.
But, the last time that I visited with her, she was back to her normal self. Her breathing was back to normal, and they had taken the oxygen tanks out of her room. She had had a few physical therapy sessions, and her hip was feeling much better.
When I walked in the room she smiled at me and immediately began talking. She talked about things that had happened over the last few weeks – things she had not been able to talk about before because of her breathing and her hip.
She also wanted to talk about “religious things”. This is always somewhat funny to me, because she starts by saying that she does not talk “religion” with anyone but me. She says that she tells people, “If I want to talk about religious things then I’ll talk to Alan.” I asked her why she talks with me but not with other people, and she says, “Because I know you care about me”.
While we were talking about God, she started talking about her children again. She’s angry with God because “he took” her sons in separate automobile accidents when they were both twenty-one. She also has a daughter, but her daughter is not “good” like her sons, at least according to Ms. Jennie.
She was almost in tears when she told me that her daughter once threw hot coffee in her face and yelled at her, “I hate you! I wish you were dead!”
I told her that I can’t imagine the pain that that caused. I told her that I could imagine Miranda telling me that. It would break my heart.
Then I said, “I know that I can’t make up for what your daughter did and said to you. I don’t want to try to make up for it. But, I want you to know that I love you, and I’m glad that you’re not dead”. She smiled again in spite of the pain that her memories had caused.
I don’t know why God has chosen me to love Ms. Jennie. I pray that God will use my relationship with her and my words to her to bring Ms. Jennie to himself. Only he can do that. All I can do is make myself available to him and to her.
If you would like for me to include your story in this series, please send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.