As I mentioned in an earlier post, the end of my year was rather chaotic on many levels. At some points I felt as if I was sinking. At others, it felt as if the ground was shaking. Many times I was searching for "the green pastures and the still waters." I wish I could say that everything is completely resolved and life is back to normal, but it's not. The events of the last half of last year still haunt me, cause me to wonder, and spur me on to search God's Word for solid answers.
The most disturbing, perplexing and troubling thing that happened was the death of a friend from Lou Gehrig's disease. She had been one of "my girls", a student that was involved in our campus ministry at PSU. I can't rightly explain the connection that I had with those young women. I only know that although time and distance have separated many of us, I still think of them as "my girls." A part of my life was invested in them and that connection is still strong in me. They were and are, for all intent and purposes my "kids".
Although I lived in the same town as this young woman, I rarely saw her. I visited her a few times when she had children and we would see each other in stores from time to time. Her and her husband attended another church in town, so we didn't have occasion to spend a lot of time together. Our little congregation keeps me busy and my main focus is the people that God has given us to shepherd.
When I found out that she was sick, I immediately called and set up a time to go and see her. I ended up having to cancel because my father also fell ill and I was running between 2 states to visit him. I happened to see a member of her church soon after that who told me that there were people ministering to her on a regular basis, praying with her, helping her and her family. I kind of got the impression that what they didn't say was more strong than what they did. I felt very unwelcome. After speaking with my husband about the situation he reminded me that there are certain ministerial ethics that we have to abide by, one of which includes not going into another shepherd's flock to minister. He reminded me that they chose the church they would attend, the Pastor they would come under, the people they would fellowship with, the teaching they would embrace and we had to respect that. So, other than sending my well-wishes, there really wasn't much I could do except pray, which I did, through all the years that she was sick. There were some other circumstances that came into play that really hindered my being highly involved with her, even in her sickness which I won't get into, but it was very hard for me-to say the least.
One Thursday afternoon I got a call from her husband. She wanted to see me. I knew she was deteriorating. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit so I decided to go see her the next day. I went out to breakfast and was walking out of the restaurant to get in my car and go see her when I got a call. Someone had gone by her house and saw a hearse in the driveway. I was too late. I was devastated. For days the thoughts of "what did she want to say to me", "did she want me to do something for her?", "was she angry because I didn't come sooner?", they haunted me.
For weeks I was tormented by the feeling that I had failed her in some way. The only thing that finally brought me some relief was the word God spoke to my heart. He reminded me that she was with Him and she understood EVERYTHING and that if she was angry or hurt or disappointed by my actions, she no longer was.
In retrospect I learned some things and made some decisions about what I will do if I am ever in that situation again. There were some things I could have and should have done much better. There were some things that I did right, even though they were hard for me.
The ground feels a little firmer beneath my feet now but I still think of her quite often and I pray for her husband and four children who are left to press on without her. Her death has caused me to ask many questions of God and I know that God has used it to open up His Word to me and to teach me about faith. It's funny. God brought her into my life so that I could minister to her as a young woman, but now it seems that God is using her death to minister to me. My comfort lies in the fact that this is not over. Some day she and I can walk and talk about all that transpired here on earth and we will both understand. I look forward to that!