Wednesday, November 09, 2005

An Unexpected Blessing

This morning I took a little trip out of my comfort zone, right on down to the nursing home in town. In my joblessness (which is another post altogether) I naturally find myself with a lot of time on my hands. After several years of busyness, of feeling frazzled and pulled in fourteen directions, the slower pace of life I now enjoy is nice in a lot of ways. But I also find that one of my biggest struggles is making the best use of the time (Ephesians 5:16). I'm ashamed of how many times I have gotten to the end of the afternoon, when it's just about time for Steve to get home, and thought, "What did I do all day?!" It's discouraging and frustrating to realize you've consistently wasted the hours God has given you.

Several weeks ago, as I drove by the nursing home, it occurred to me that volunteering there might be a good way to make use of these hours in my day. I spend most of my time by myself in the apartment, with little reason or natural opportunity (aside from church and choir practice) to get out and interact with people besides Steve. And though I may be going deeper in my relationship with God, I have many times felt frustrated and convicted by the fact that that intimacy isn't often finding an outlet in service to others.

So I memorized the phone number for the nursing home as I drove by. I remember that a couple of years ago, my nursing-home-resident grandmother (who, when I lived just 50 minutes away from her at IWU, I'm ashamed to say I visited about as many times as I can count on one hand) received regular visits from a college student in the town where she lives. Grandma always talked about Hannah's visits--I know they meant a lot to her. Hannah even wrote a biographical essay about my grandma for her class project.

My grandma is too far away for me to visit now, but I figured there were probably residents at the nursing home here who don't get visitors very often and would love someone to talk to. And I realized that although it wasn't a primary way I would choose to serve or feel gifted to serve, it wouldn't take much for me to sacrifice a little time to go listen to a lonely elderly person. It was a simple opportunity to demonstrate religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless (James 1:27), and it was the least I could do.

In my self-absorption, and (okay, let's call a spade a spade) disobedience, I put off calling for more than a month. It wasn't until last week that I finally called that number (which I still remembered), and went to meet with the social services director. She was incredibly sweet and very enthusiastic about having a volunteer to help her out. I felt very far from my comfort zone, but I was pretty convinced it was something I needed to do, so I promised to come back the following Wednesday. This morning I was feeling nervous and ill-equipped, but asked God for courage and His heart of compassion, and drove across town.

My fears were baseless, of course. I didn't just spend, I enjoyed an hour there. I read parts of the weekly county newspaper to some ladies who can't see well enough to read it themselves but always love to hear the news (and the obituaries--which seems depressing to me--but at least they didn't know anyone in this week's list). And I had a great time. Miss Opal had a comment or a story for just about everything I read or said. It took so little effort for me to read headlines and summarize stories, and to agree with her comments or listen to her memories. She was a sweet lady, and I didn't even have to hesitate in telling her that I'd be back next week.

I'm smiling just remembering how I felt sitting in her room. It's funny--or ridiculous, or perhaps just sad--how we get ourselves all worked up (or maybe I'm the only one who does this) over something God calls us to do, even putting it off as long as possible, only to find that it's not anything close to the dreadful task we built up in our minds. It's funny how when you set out to bless others, God ends up blessing you.


Kayla said...

I probably wouldn't be able to muster up that much courage but I am glad you did!!! That's awesome that you had such a great time. But I must confess, my conviction is in my throat as I remember my Grandma in the nursing home whom I don't visit anywhere near enough. I hope when I am an old lady, if I have to go into a nursing home, that a sweet young woman like yourself will come read to me : )

pk said...

I sat in my office last night for almost two hours, doing nothing but stalling, before I got up the steam to go visit a 13 yr old in the hospital. I knew I was going to go, I had said I would. It turned out to be such a great experience! What a great lesson...sometimes the very things we dread can be the most fulfilling!

Thanks for your "testimony" Amy.

Jules said...

That is so great! I'm glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and obeyed--what a blessing.

Keep me posted as to how it's going.

Anonymous said...

Big smiles and a couple proud of you, Amy. Remember the lesson you learned here when the next "hard word" comes. :)