(The following post was written by my younger daughter, Jamie, who is a social worker. She recently witnessed a beautiful marriage–in a setting you might not expect.)
My job as a home-based social worker allows me the opportunity to see very unusual or difficult situations on a daily basis.
Once, for example, I walked into a home and witnessed three men getting tattooed at a kitchen table. In another home, a chicken was running through the house. In still another home, the police came and picked up the person with whom I had an appointment. This work, however, also allows me the opportunity to witness unexpected and encouraging moments in life.
I recently visited a client at the home of her aunt. My client wasn’t there yet, so her aunt talked with me while I waited. When I walked inside the house, I breathed in the usual aroma of incense that was typical in this home. The grandfather, mid-50s, was lying on his pallet on the couch. The nearby coffee table was strewn with medication. On other occasions, I had witnessed the aunt carrying her husband up the stairs into their home and setting him up on the couch where he spent the day. I would often talk with her as she fed him, gave him his medicine, and even held his cigarette for him.
Over these few months, I had witnessed his health rapidly decline. She told me that this had gone on for a couple of years. Her husband was a war veteran and was now suffering from a variety of ailments: a blood clot on his lung, liver cancer, and so on. She had left her job to take care of him and his daily needs. Caring for him had become her full-time job.
As I spoke with her this day, she grew quiet as big tears welled up in her eyes. She told me that the hospital had given her husband two weeks to live. She began to tell me that she didn’t know what she was supposed to do with that information. She took care of her husband, and he was her life. She didn’t know how she would live with him gone. She went on to say that her brother had died in a car accident the week before. She asked why God was testing her like this. “How do I live without the only thing I ever knew?”
During this tender moment, her husband called out to her for water. About the same time, my client walked into the house ready for her appointment.
It was only 9:00 a.m.
Did I mention that this couple was deeply imprisoned by poverty, one had literally been in prison, had taken care of their three toddler grandchildren while their child was in jail, had survived on the man’s benefits from the VA, and had allowed my client (their niece) to live in their home?
This family has helped me question my life and whether or not I am living to the full extent of its potential. Their giving hearts reflect the attitude of Christ. They have very little, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to help as many people as they can.
You never know who you might impact. You never know in whose life you will make a difference. You never know who will make a difference in your life. I hope you live every moment conscious of your reflection to the outside world.
Sometimes, I catch myself stereotyping people long before I even know their story. This aunt helped me see that people are more than what I might see externally. Things aren’t always what they seem.
Finally, this woman knows what it means to be married to someone “in sickness and in health.” Maybe all of us should take a good look at her example.