One Little Word

heart_leaf.JPGJust like that. In the blink of an eye. One word can literally change your whole life.

This morning I got a phone call from a friend, telling me that her husband’s doctor told her husband at his follow-up appointment that he has cancer.

Cancer.
AIDS.
Parkinson’s.
MS.
Millions of often, dreaded little words with life-changing impacts.

You’ve been there. You’ve sat on that cold, vinyl seat or bed, depending on your bodily position. It’s always wrapped in noisy, white, sterile paper. You sit there, butt-naked except for a thin cotton wrap that never really does wrap you. It’s always too short. It’s always too cold. It’s always too airy. Just about the time you wonder if you should have taken off your socks, the door opens and the doctor walks in wearing a terile white coat. I know that doctors worked extremely hard for those coats. I know they aren’t cheap by any means. But white? Who decided on white? Such a stand off-ish color in the medical community. Cold and uninviting.

The doctor gently closes the door and positions himself onto his rolling stool. At this point he puts down any papers or files he was holding, glanced them once more for good measure and then looks you straight in the eye as he scoots just a little bit closer. He’s about to tell you something that will change your life forever.

You have cancer. Or, maybe he tells you that you have MS. Or maybe you heard the words “Parkinson’s disease.”

It’s just one little word, but it changes your life forever. I know. I’ve sat on that sterile white paper and so did my friend’s husband, just the day before. I suppose it’s comes from experiencing life in other seasons or perhaps thoughts of the unknown that can change the way we now view life, approach life, live life.

But, there is another little ‘word’ I know that has changed lives: Jesus. Many react to that word with much the same fear as when they hear the words cancer or Alzheimer’s. And, for much the same reasons.

When you sit on that vinyl seat and the doctor has just given you news you’d rather have not heard, eventually you begin to wonder how it’s going to affect your life. How will people treat you now? What will I have to change? How is my life, as I’ve know it, going to change? When some of us were approached with the idea of Jesus, similar questions piled up. How will my life change? What do I have to give up? Will my life forever be different?

Jesus doesn’t wait for us to change before he calls us to trust Him. He changes us usually slowly, methodically, with great purpose, after  our realization of our need for a Savior. And our lives become different at the sound of His name, but not despairing. Instead of days filled with fear, they are filled with hope. Joy replaces sadness and sorrow. Trials become triumphs.

All because of one little word: Jesus.

A friend once said someone told her that when she was having difficulty knowing this man called Jesus as anything other than a strict, authoritative judge, condemning and to be feared, to think of who she’d like Him to be.

So, she did. And she thought she’d like Him to be kind and forgiving. Compassionate and protective. A Father for her children and a constant companion for her. Strong and secure. Loving and gentle.

And that’s who He became to her, because that is who He is. Not someone to be feared but Someone to be adored. And it was just one little word that changed her life forever, for good.

The word – the Man . . .

Jesus.

One of ‘Those’ People

About a week ago, I met one of my neighbors.  They travel a lot in their motor home and had just pulled in from a long stretch. Gone all winter to Arizona and for the summer, they were camp hosts over at Crater Lake.  So, I wasn’t being ‘un-neighborly’.  They are just never there.

I had gone to the mailbox and on the way back my neighbor was standing at the back of his motor home with two other older fellows.  They were chit-chatting or as some say, ‘shooting the breeze’.

I had been singing as I walked and brought it down to humming to myself as I approached the threesome and was about to walk by when my neighbor broke the conversation he was having with his two friends in order to tell me to “Lighten up.  Things aren’t that bad.”

Oh great.  Another one of those people.  Now, I have nothing against ‘those’ people.  I’m not even sure what I mean by ‘those’ people, except to say, they don’t get it.

Some people measure happiness and joy by the smile across someone’s face.  If they’re smiling, they muse be doing great and yet, how many times have you put on a smile for the crowds, meanwhile inside, your world is falling apart?  But – it doesn’t work the same in reverse order.  If you look down, people assume you are down.  They aren’t familiar with the effects of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Many think that PD is simply an illness that makes a person shake and, it does do that.  However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Did you (anyone unfamiliar with PD) know that Parkinson’s disease can include (but is most certainly not in the least bit limited to):

  • loss of smell
  • loss of balance
  • stumbling
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • dry eyes
  • lack of muscle control
  • tremors
  • severe pain
  • stiffness? (— to name just a few symptoms.)

So, when my neighbor from across the street interrupted his friends to make his comment about me putting a smile on my face and added, “Now, isn’t that better?,” I was frustrated because I was happy.

So often we think that unless the other person is smiling, something’s wrong.  We assume that something is troubling them.  People with PD have a disadvantage in this area – being able to show on the outside, how they feel on the inside.  A person with Parkinson’s disease often loses his or her smile, as the facial muscles in a PD patient has caused their smile to tighten up and… disappear.  Many people who know nothing about Parkinson’s disease don’t understand that and end up yelling at others to put a smile on their face, if one is missing.  If that weren’t enough, they follow it up with, “Now, isn’t that better?”

Being happy doesn’t mean you walk around with a smile plastered on your face. Many people are smiling on the outside whole dying on the inside.  The next time you see someone who looks lonely, sad, down – ask them how they’re doing.  You might be surprised at their reaction.

Journeying with you,

Sherri

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