Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Don't Quit!"

"When you're born, you don't really know what you're getting into," a resident of mine observed. "I'm not sure how I would have reacted if I had known I would be a 98-year-old old maid in a nursing home."

I knew what she meant. "Yeah," I said, "If I had known what I was getting into, I would have quit then and there."

"Don't quit!" Eula suddenly responded, "If you quit, who will help me get into bed?"

Somehow those unexpected words--spoken in a state of mild confusion--cut me to the quick.

You see, my life has been at a stand-still. I was working as a certified nursing assistant while I wait to return to study theology at a new school this fall. I'm responsible for the day-to-day needs of the residents at a nursing home, assisting them with their daily tasks such as bathing, eating, getting dressed and so on.

Some days I really hate my job. To make the time go by more quickly, I try to keep myself busy. I'm working on losing weight and getting a driver's license, for instance.

Still I can't help at times but wonder why God has put this period in my life. What fruit am I producing? What good am I doing? Why am I stuck here?

I didn't expect God to speak through a tiny, 98-year-old woman (although since most of my current social contact is with elderly women, what medium did I expect him to use?).

Anyway, her words--"If you quit, who will help me?"--gave me pause. I had just been going through the motions, making sure all 40 of my residents' needs were met, making sure all of them were in bed before night shift arrived.

Suddenly I thought of the baby Jesus in the manger, all the visions of all the great religions' prophets, the enlightenment of the Enlightened ones. And then I was reminded that God speaks when and where it is least expected.

[Originally published "God Speaks to Me in Unexpected Ways" in August 2008 in the Kansas City Star under my maiden name, Bethanie Seiglar. The resident quoted in this piece, Eula Hawkins, died August 25,2011 at the age of 100.]

Picture taken at her 100th birthday party. Rest in peace, Eula!

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