Her name was Patricia, and with the sweetest Ukranian accent, she answered my simple question about her cute little dog. The day was cold with a hint of the Christmas Season upon us, so I wished her a Merry Christmas then.
It was her honest and sad answer that stopped me in my tracks as I walked my new neighborhood 15 years ago.
“Oh, no, it won’t be a Merry Christmas for me this year. My husband just died a few months ago, and there will be no celebrating for me.”
My heart went out to this sweet woman, who openly shared her heart with me, and I knew that God was calling me to listen. I had no idea how that simple act of listening would bring such deep heart blessings to me. Patricia would become a Second-Mom to me, and a “Babba” (Ukranian Grandma) to all of my kids, and I would become a listening ear that she so desperately needed. But on that cold wintery day, neither one of us knew the path that God had chosen for us.
She lived through unimaginable horrors that I could never begin to comprehend. Her Mother had died when she was only 3 years old, and little Patricia almost died herself over the trauma that was inflicted at losing her Mother to an awful cancer. But God intervened, and Patricia got up and walked after a year in bed when a traveling “Priest” prayed over her.
The Russians invaded their homeland a few years later and brought the horrors of Communism to a village of farmers. Because her father could speak several languages, the family found favor, and her father became a trusted liaison between the village and the Russians.
A few years later, the Nazis invaded and marched the entire village from Ukraine into Germany. When Patricia’s father refused to remove a picture of Jesus from their home, he almost lost his life. But once again, God intervened and gave their family safety in a land of so many horrors.
When Patricia married, she didn’t realize that her husband had fought in the underground resistance and would suffer from outbursts of violent PTSD for the rest of his life, long before Counselors were able to offer the help that is so readily available today. Life was always hard for my dear friend. And yet, she loved to laugh and keep everyone happy with her pranks. She shared a love of nature’s beauty with me and with anyone who would pause to see.
It was only as God asked me to wait with her, and to listen to her stories, that she began to unburden her heart about the deep trials in her life. And in that waiting, God began to open my heart to the beauty of listening.
We are a people who would rather rush to the meetings, read all the books, and find our self-help issues fixed by 10am tomorrow, please. But God made us for fellowship. For relationship. For healing.
Ever since we left that first Garden, we have been a people in need of healing.
Some days as I walk this Chronic Illness path, I complain about the need for healing that began 5 years ago with my first diagnosis.
But my need for healing began at birth.
And my God is the One who waits and listens in that healing process.
It was 10 years ago that my own Mother died, and Patricia began to call me her 2nd Momma, a phrase that I gladly accepted. As her diabetes intensified, I drove her to places when she had to stop driving. I didn’t realize that God was healing my own fear of driving, as I listened to Patricia’s heartaches and watched God heal her broken heart.
In the waiting, in the listening to hard stories of brokenness, God brought my dear Sweet 2nd Momma into the place of seeing that it had been Jesus who had carried her all along.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Her journey of brokenness ended on Sunday, as her Dear Jesus carried her into Heaven. My heart was broken with the grief that I felt at telling her good-bye. But as I wept, a vision flowed into my heart. The halls of Heaven were ringing with laughter. The God who had carried Patricia all through her life was laughing with the Angels over the sheer joy of a heart that He had created to laugh in the midst of heartache.
Only God could bring such beauty in the waiting.
As my own path is filled with what looks like endless waiting: all of the medications have been resisted by my body. The new Rheumatologist has said that I cannot take any of the standard treatments now while my body continues to manifest multiple side effects. The daily dose of Prednisone is not healthy for me either, and so I must begin the long process of decreasing that, all while hoping that my body will not fall into endless flares. The call to rest and to wait has been spoken into my life once again.
But that call has taken on a different hue now. How can I go back to the old way of complaining about waiting?
It has become a Gift.
The Gift to wait with someone I love.
Jesus is that someone. How can I refuse?
Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 NIV
Thank you to Ruth Campos, over at Planted by Living Waters, for writing to me and pointing me in the direction of the beautiful teaching of Dallas Holm called God’s Rests and God’s Tests. You can find the DVD by clicking here. Dallas sang this precious song at the end of the teaching.
I would love to pray with you, my dear friends. Even though I have never met so many of you, I feel such a beautiful connection as we sit together and listen to Jesus, even over these digital airwaves.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the gift of waiting and listening that You showered upon my dear 2nd Momma, Patricia, as she sat with You during these latter years of her life. Thank You that You allowed me to be an eye-witness of Your healing love pouring over those broken places in her life. Thank You for the beautiful love that she showered upon me and my family. Jesus, will You carry us now, those of us who are looking upon our own seasons of waiting with confusion and brokenness. We are baffled with the pain that makes no sense to our limited vision. We want to learn to press into You and wait for Your beauty to shine forth. Help us to hold onto You, to let You press us deeper into Your healing love. You are the Lord we praise.
In Your sweet name, we pray,
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