Monday, December 15, 2008

Such a gift as this

For confidentiality reasons, I have not been talking much about my new job. I am a personal helper for a young woman with a chronic, disabling illness called myalgic encephalomylitis. It is a poorly understood disorder that results in a full fledged attack on every system of the body. The disease causes great suffering.

My job is basically to help out around the house. I buy groceries and cook meals. I clean. I do laundry occasionally, scrub the tub, run errands.

The list of my activities can, in no way, even scratch the surface of what this new job has been for me.

It is a sacred thing to prepare a meal for someone. It is holy to be invited into a home, tend to someone's needs, sit by a bed, hold a hand, whisper a prayer.

For a long time I was afraid to ask if I could pray for her. Weeks went by when I would leave and sit in my car to pray because I was afraid of how it would be received. Then one day, finally, God broke open my fear and gave me the courage to ask.

I have been praying every day since. And God has been showering me with consolations when I am with her. I feel his presence so powerfully I can't help but weep.

A couple of months ago, this woman and her husband were strangers. Now we are deeply, intimately connected. It is a great honor and priviledge to be invited into someone's life. I thank God for it every day. I pray, too, for relief for her suffering.

Pray for us all, my dear friends.

Pray for strength and courage and perserverance and love. And for her, please pray for healing.

In Christ's name.


Shift Worker said...

Recently I read a wonderful reflection by a woman who realized the value of her relationship with her mother-in-law, whom she cared for in the end stages of an illness. She concluded that she wished she'd been able to value the relationship all along.

You are really blessed with a vision for relationships. (When people ask your gifts for ministry, and they will, this is a biggie.)

I have started to think about relationships in three ways: parasitic, symbiotic, and synergistic. I'm seeking balance in my personal life between these three, and realizing that some are just not going to evolve into something better. I'm struggling with limiting my exposure to some, so that I have the energy for everything else.

I've realized that ministry is definitely a blurry line when it comes to how much draining I can stand - work drains home and vice versa. I'm always a Christian, and always a pastor, but that doesn't mean everyone is always my flock. (Unfortunately, not everyone gets this.)

Ok, I've hijacked you long enough!
God bless!

Rachel Nguyen said...

Shift Worker,

There is much to ponder in your comment. Thank you so much.

I am not sure what it means to have a vision for relationships, but maybe it is that I have a sense of the bigger picture, sometimes. But I think I only have that because God drops broad hints, which I sniff out like breadcrumbs on a path, LOL.

The balance of energy is a big deal, especially for folks in ministry. I know that for me, a direct encounter with the Holy Spirit is almost always draining in some way. Like I have gotten drunk on Love and now I need to go sleep it off somewhere.

Before I was a reiki practitioner, hands on healing would exhaust me. I'd feel such a surge of energy while I was doing it, then need rest afterward. Learning reiki helped a little, but I still feel the draining of energy. I pray about this a lot.

It comforts me, though, that Christ himself felt drained when he healed. (the story of the Hemorrhaging woman clearly states that he 'felt the power go out of him'.) He knew the best way to handle it, too. Solitude and prayer.

As to your final point, I think there are certainly times when relationships have run their course. At that point it is time to bless the person and spiritually turn them over to God. But by the same token, I have had some friendships that went all the way to the precipice when suddenly God would make it clear that he wanted us to stick it out, that we needed to break through to something new. I wanted to end a friendship at one point, but came to understand that I would only do it if it were a mutual decision. That opened doors to a level of communication we had never had before... and now are much better friends as a result. I think God salvaged that one, really.

Ok... I have hijacked my own comments section, LOL.