Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Chapter 12 - Guideposts to Gratitude

The next few years did bring us a move to a new house, the sale of my Dad’s, ......sort of…… and the changes did help for sure! But those years also came with a series of heartaches. 

One of which made me sob uncontrolled bent over, declaring through broken breaths that, I NEVER, wanted, to help someone spiritually again….. I was crushed. It’s too hard. It hurt too much. I gave everything. I give too much. And then I was left. Discarded. 

This was huge for me. Generally I don’t cry. And I certainly don’t sob! I was broken. It was another type of mourning. I had always wanted to help people. And now helping people had broken me. So much of who I am had been broken down in different ways. I couldn’t do it again. All my efforts were for nothing. 

Later I came to appreciate that maybe the Bible studies weren’t for my students, but for me.  Maybe God gave them to me, just for me? To help me through the hard times. They had certainly done that. Been bright spots along the darkness. This thought made me cry yet again. “There's more happiness in giving” it says. But even that wasn’t enough to cheer me. When it came to helping anyone again, I was in a very negative space emotionally. I definitely had some PTSD. 

Then, a few months later, I met Guidepost # 2. 

We’ll call her Mary.

First time I met her, she finished our conversation gruffly and firmly with, “ You can bring me the magazines but I don’t want to join anything and I don’t want to go to any meetings”.  Alright! Boundary clearly defined. I could tell there was something a little odd about her, not your average person. But no matter, she obviously had a spiritual interest. I would bring her some magazines then, with zero expectations. 

So for the next 6 months I deliver the mags without much fanfare. Then one day she invites me in. She told us a little about her life, some of the losses she’d had, some of her life challenges.  I told her about a book I thought she might like that I could bring to her next time, she agreed, and then said matter of factly, “So then we can get together and study it together, when is good for you to come over, I’m free Fridays?” So she started her own Bible Study!! 

And I laughed at God. “Good one! Good one….”  I said out loud shaking my head. He’s a pretty funny guy.  I said I would never study with anyone again cuz it hurt too much. Then he gives me this unique lady to study with who explicitly said on day one, she does NOT want to go to meetings.  So I have literally NO expectations for her right from the start, except to feed her spiritually.

So we study every week. Like my other studies, she is a bright spot in the darkness. Her best friend had died a couple years ago, and she felt like she had been living life on hold since then. When I started coming to see her, she felt like God was nudging her to move on with life, get back on track, so she listened. 

Again, there were times when I think God gave this study to me, to help me, and not the other way round. But it was mutual. She needed me to balance and focus her spiritually, solidify her faith. I needed her to see a beautiful example of gratitude amongst great difficulty. I was constantly amazed at her outlook on life, her gratitude for the smallest of things. She was poor, living on disability, family issues, mental health issues, overcame addictions, didn’t have many friends, Yet she was sooooooo grateful for life! She was simply grateful to still be alive when she probably shouldn’t be. She was proud of herself. And rightfully so. She had overcome so much

I had so much more, and yet here I was feeling bad for myself. What right did I have. She really did help me see that I needed to find more joy in life, find the good in the small accomplishments. I so love her. She saw God in everything when I was having a hard time seeing him anywhere. 

I was teaching her? No, ……….she was teaching me. 

“By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.”

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