Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)
TITLE: Along Life's Byways
By Dolores Stohler
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At times I would seethe inside when he began the day by telling me about all the physical problems he was having at the moment. Well, I‘m getting old too and subject to all the aches and pains old age can deliver. But I wasn’t going to trouble anyone by telling them how bad I felt. “Keep a smile on your face and trust the Lord for deliverance” was my motto. But Don would grumble and complain even when he was having one of his better days. “I feel rotten,” he’d tell everyone who asked. And he seemed to take satisfaction in his response.
Why did I marry this man? I asked myself over and over. The reasons came quickly--he was gentle, kind and caring. Don is the kind of person who always thinks of the needs of others before himself. People around our neighborhood call on him whenever they need a listening ear or a helping hand. If I made a list, his strengths would outnumber his weaknesses two to one. So why was I so hard on Don?
The reasons, I believe, are obvious. Unlike Don, I’m critical, judgmental, proud and nit-picky. Ouch! Doesn’t that sound like a Pharisee? I’ve noted these negative traits in other Christians and condemned them. Then, seeing them in myself, I try to destroy them. But trying to become humble is a painful process for a Pharisee like me. I remind myself, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. (James 4:6 NKJ) I get down on my knees and pray, “Lord, how do I swallow my pride and find favor with you?”
The answer comes back, “Just look at Don. He’s humble.”
Then, last spring, a terrible thing happened. Don fell into a major depression and nothing seemed to help. He could hardly drag himself out of bed and wouldn’t trust himself to drive. His nerves were in a terrible state. To make matters worse, the depression occurred around the same time that my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl--her first child--and wanted my help with the baby. Now I was torn in two emotionally. Do I spend time with my daughter and ignore the needs of my husband or do I stay with Don and offer encouragement? I tried to do both at once. Didn’t I tell you I was an optimist?
But the medicines the doctor tried on Don just weren’t working. He was getting worse. In the meantime, maternity leave was up for my daughter and she returned to work. Would I still look after the baby as I had promised or should she hire a sitter? I took that baby to enjoy. Well, why not? I wasn’t getting out of the house anyway. At this point the Lord stepped in and gave me a brilliant idea.
While Don was lying abed, full of worry and feeling sorry for himself, I would come in with my tiny granddaughter. I’d lay Catherine on the bed next to him and she’d smile and coo and stroke his arm ever so gently. Her smile was beautiful and Don couldn’t help but respond. In no time at all, he was back to his usual routine and offering to take his turn at babysitting. He admitted to the doctor later, “Your pills didn’t help that much. It was Catherine who brought me back to life.”
Catherine adores her grandfather, calling him “oompah” and following him around the house, begging him to read her a story. He takes her out into his garden where he brings beautiful flowers to life and nurtures her soul along with the tomato plants. And I rarely hear him complain these days. A little child has led him in the way that he should go.
“You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJ)
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