Originally posted November 7, 2011, at A Front View Pew. Republished with permission of the author.
My two volunteer jobs bring me into contact with elderly people on a weekly basis.
One of the things that I’ve always liked best about those jobs is the opportunity to get to know these people. That’s easiest with the assisted living residents; I see them fairly regularly.
The home alert system clients might be only once, but sticking around to visit seems to be a big part of the deal.
As many people discover in serving others, you go into it with the intent of doing something good for someone else and find yourself coming away feeling like you’ve received more than you’ve given.
Typically, that is the case for me, too. For example, one of my “regulars” likes to talk about trucking, which is something my dad and my brother both did. So, my client gets someone who will listen to his stories and, in a way, I get a little piece of my family back again.
The most recent people I’ve been sent to see have been more difficult for me. Before I got a chance to explain how to use the help button, one lovely lady had told me all about losing her husband less than a year ago and how they had been married for more than 50 years.
She went on then to show me the picture of the 8-year-old son they had lost in a tragic accident. How could I not cry along with her?
And last week, I met with a lady who had lost not only her son (who was the same age that one of mine is now) and granddaughter to car accidents, but also her daughter and husband to cancer. I was totally not prepared for that. “It’s just not fair,” she said.
I had to agree.
When I first started volunteering, I assumed that I would spend a little time with people, chatting about nice things like the weather and maybe share a cheerful, uplifting story.
I envisioned being someone who was there to enjoy a good time with elderly people. For some reason, they usually seem to like me.
But I think this last month, I’ve learned a little more about sharing the sadder side of life. Though I wanted to be their good-time gal, I had to walk along with them through their dark valleys. Some of those valleys, I’ve been to myself.
Oh, Psalm 23. Somehow, I’m hearing it in a way I never have before.
Maybe that’s why I like the different seasons that we observe through the church calendar.
Life isn’t all happiness and joy all the time.
We don’t have Christmas and Easter every day. It’s not one praise song after another about me and my Jesus.
Sometimes our lives are just sort of routine, like that long stretch of time after Pentecost.
Sometimes they get a little worse. I think we need to go through Lent because sometimes, we face horrible, painful things that there is no way around.
So we have to walk through, but never alone, and the darkness is never the end of the story.
Find a link to Anita Nuetzman’s blog A Front Pew View at Lutheran Blogs.