I once took care of a patient with what’s called a “difficult” family member. It was the kind of family member that when they arrived the staff would make themselves scarce. All the nurses would roll their eyes or sigh in exasperation, myself included. Because this family member was that bad. I would imagine this person encountered that type of reception wherever they went. But, I mean, wasn’t he kinda asking for it?
You see, this guy was a typical drunk, a longtime alcoholic, with yellow eyes and a sunken-in face. His clothes hung loosely on his malnourished frame, and the smell of stale cigarette smoke mixed with urine and body odor permeated from his dirty, wrinkled clothing. He’d been known to pass out at the hospital room bedside, after vomiting all over the floor. As if the staff didn’t have enough to do for their patients without caring for visitors too.
One day when I encountered him, his hair stood up on his head, and snot ran down his nose after he had taken a long public transportation ride through winter weather to come to the hospital to visit. His breath reeked of alcohol, and he struggled to keep his words from slurring as he questioned me about his spouse. He repeated the same questions he had asked the day before, and his eyes jumped back and forth as he stuttered and spoke.
I answered his questions the best I could, and as I left the room I thought of the fact that it could just as easily be me in his shoes. With a history of alcoholism in my family, and a history of my own, I knew had I not stopped drinking, it could be me there slurring my words. I couldn’t judge this man, but I figured I could feed him. So I gathered up a chicken salad sandwich and some juice. Then I took it to the room.
Of course, he was grateful, and he thanked me. I answered that it wasn’t a problem, but it was what he said after that really got me.
He spoke very clearly this,
“My Momma always told me I talked too much. She said that a child of God didn’t have to speak a word, that their light would just shine whatever needed to be said. I’ve always remembered her saying that.
Well, I want you to know that your light says all that needs to be said.”
His wise words, first spoken by his mother, stopped my heart for a moment. I was humbled and grateful that God could use me in such a small way to shine His light of love to one of His children.
I guess we all have a choice each and every day. It’s not always the easiest choice, given the circumstances, but it’s a choice nonetheless. Each day we are afforded the opportunity to love on folks. We can just love the ones that are easy to love, like our children, and that will still please the Lord. But we are also given the opportunity to love the ones who might be more difficult to love, for whatever reason. Subsequently, these are usually the ones who happen to need love the most. It’s our choice if we’ll see the chance, and then make the decision to step out in love and grab the opportunity by the horns to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I’m quite certain I fall short of this opportunity often, sadly, but I was so blessed to be able to choose love and let it shine on this particular day.
May we all try and open our eyes a little wider, our hearts a bit bigger, and may we say to the world all that really needs to be said, simply by shining His light.