The joy of being useful.

Life is so strange sometimes – the way it morphs between being way too slow, too boring, too lonely – to suddenly changing to be way too fast, too much pressure, too busy and too many people to keep up with.  It seems like my life is either feast or famine.

I decided to quit my job in 2015 at only age 57.  This was partly because my health issues and fatigue were worsening, and partly because I wanted to work at something more meaningful than slaving away for lawyers under high pressure as a legal assistant for too little pay and too little appreciation for all I brought to the table.  I hoped I would be able to find a part-time job helping a pastor or a church or a Christian organization that provided relief to the homeless, or some such worthy cause.  But instead, by the time I retired from my job, my illnesses, fatigue, and feeling sick/dizzy/weak, especially for the first few hours of many mornings, had escalated to the point that I was unable to work any type of regular job.

Many people advised me to take a rest.  I rested quite a bit in 2015 and 2016.  I fought against the weirdness of having no place to be, no sense of purpose, loneliness and boredom.  I chose a few minor ministries I could perform to serve others in a small way to help keep myself from feeling completely worthless and to have the chance to help someone:  teaching piano lessons to a few students and bringing piano music, singing, and scripture reading to the elderly at their facility homes.  And, of course, I served my family and grandchildren, took care of my home and was there for my husband, doing all the things most women tend to do normally that are so easily taken for granted.  I began to get into the swing of “retirement” and started enjoying being jobless.

Then came 2017.  It came with a vengeance.  I guess God decided it was time to stretch me a little bit more.  Through no desire or intention of my own, life began to get more hectic and busy and difficult.  I suppose my husband’s retirement and being around more has contributed to being more busy and sidetracked.  Besides my own worsening health issues, with weird sick spells and allergic reactions for which my doctors, nor I, can figure out a cause or solution, a series of difficulties began to pop unwelcomed into my life.  I won’t bother to try to list them all here, but I will mention getting the news in July that my entire mouth was full of dental caries and four teeth needed extracted.  This was due to worsening dry mouth problems caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome (an autoimmune disease I have), not because of negligence in hygiene.  I’ve been slowly working my way through all the dental and periodontal work which has been slowed by my body having bad local allergic reactions to something in the dental materials and/or dental anesthetic shots.  Additionally, for some reason, it takes my body two weeks to stop the throbbing pain after a tooth extraction, which is abnormal.  Long story short, it has been pretty hard and I am nowhere close to finished.  (Deep sigh.)

This year, I’ve started to feel like all I ever do is take care of myself and my lousy health and dental problems.  It really discourages me.  I finally have a right passion for Christ and desire to serve God and others, and I should finally have some time to really devote to that desire, having completed my regular job and the raising of my sons.  Thanks to God’s provision for an early retirement through my husband’s great providing for our family, I should be in a position to finally get to really do some good Christian ministry.  But not so much.

So, when an opportunity does come along to really get a chance to help someone, it is such a joy to me.  Recently, I had a family member that needed some support, and it was in a way that I could provide that support within my own limits.  God provided the right timing of my availability and helped me feel well enough on those days to provide the support that was needed.  Just being able to be there for someone in their time of need has made me feel a sense of purpose and has helped me forget about my own issues for a while.  It is a wonderful gift from God to be able to help another soul along the way in life.  I am grateful for the way God has given me this encouragement amidst all the trials and tests of life He has been filtering down to me lately.

I think a lesson God is teaching me through 2017 is this:  sometimes God will allow us to be in need, and needing to be served, or to have to stop and take care of ourselves, and sometimes God will allow us to have the privilege of serving others.  Either way – it is all good, and we must simply learn to trust God with what He allows for us in each season of life.  This sounds so simple, but as anyone knows who has endured difficulties that don’t make sense, this is a challenge.

Dear God: Help me always trust You in each season of life, whether it is a boring quiet season, or a busy hectic season.  Help me trust You whether I am in need or whether I am able to provide for and serve someone else in need.  Help me remember You are sovereign over all the details and circumstances of my life, and You know what You are doing.  Thank you that You’ve promised to never waste any of the hard things in my life, but will work all things together for good for me, even my own failures and mistakes.  Thank you that You sometimes allow me the privilege to serve others and allow me to see a glimmer of purpose and meaning in my small and seemingly insignificant life.

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