Love Thy Neighbor

You never know anyone's entire story, but here is what I do know: everyday an old woman laboriously eeks to the bus stop to see her grandson off.  I've seen her everyday, all school year.

One day in the shuffling of the adults returning home I happened to ask her how she was doing that day.  She smiled, nodded, then slowly began to unfold and reveal the layers of her pain.  In such a meek voice she told me of her needed knee replacement that would never happen due to her son's fears of her dying on the operating table and her being unable to care for the grandson.  I wasn't sure how to respond except to say, "I'm so sorry.  You are in such pain."  She gently smiled and walked back home and I spent days agonizing over whether there was something I could do to help her.  Gregor and I talked about any offer of help on my part being viewed by the family as an intrusion.  We spoke about the cultural and religious barriers that are present.  All true and still...

Over the course of the next months she would occasionally speak to me about her 6 stomach surgeries, of her retina transplant which has recently failed, and most poignantly of her lamentations of her mother's death when she was a young girl and of her own grief over not having bore a daughter.  Each encounter, I listened, nodded and returned home with a heavy heart.  Gregor encouraged me to speak with the other women in the neighborhood to see if they may be able to speak with her or the family.  None share the same religion and are from different provinces of their home country.

Many brief conversations later, she hesitated, then told me of her son and daughter-in-law's apathy toward her physical ailments and the need for the stairs to be vacuumed, the trash to be hauled to the curb, dinner to be cooked, the house to be cleaned, etc.  I stammered over offerings of coming over to help with dinner or vacuuming.  She shook her head and declined.  I pressed my number into her hand and told her to call me anytime.  She never has.

Today she told me that her daughter in law had pity on her last night and cooked the rice for dinner.  Then she quietly said, "Sometimes I just don't know if there really is a God." She confessed that even though her religion says there is one God and Gurus that she herself believes in God and Jesus Christ and that she weeps when she watches ministries on TV.

If I felt torn earlier, I now felt completely useless.  All I could think to do was dumbly reiterate my offer of help with household chores and ask her name so I could pray for her.




4 comments:

Kintea said...

God is merciful, and you have no idea how much your offering to help her could be a comfort to her. That's all you can do, is keep trying and praying...

Unknown said...

Wow Jules. You are really showing her the love of God. If you get a chance to share with her your own love for Christ, she will see how real He is. God has placed you in her life and she in yours. Something is going on in the unseen world for sure.

annie said...

I think you have done all you can. I hope the two of you have more opportunities to talk because it seems like that is what she needs as well. Just someone to listen and care, it sounds like she doesn't feel she has that in anyone. I think it's good to live our lives being open to what conversations, encounters God brings. Not seeking so much as allowing them.

Unknown said...

I will pray her and for you, Jules. I will pray that God will give you wisdom far beyond your years and that you continue to breath life into her. Also, that God will give her peace and strength which will reaveal to her that Jesus Christ is real and He is love.

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