When we go through change—a change of status, age, home, financials, especially all at once—it tends to throw us off balance, cause us to doubt ourselves, our life and our faith. In the disorienting spin of grief, we tend to focus on ourselves and lose site of who we are and to whom we belong.
Two years ago my husband and I lost everything, our home, job and most of our possessions, things that I held dear to my heart.
We were blessed to find an apartment in a senior living high-rise community in downtown Decatur. My granddaughter Savannah loved to point out that we were at least twenty years younger than everyone who lived here. She found great humor in her statement. For me this was not funny; I wanted my old life back.
During the same time I had to have major surgery with an extended recovery, so it took even longer for this new home to come together, and I hadn’t met many of my new neighbors.
I could not imagine or comprehend everything old passing away. I am convinced, as many of us are these days, that whatever ‘new thing’ God is doing should come on gradually so that we can adapt.
The other day I was taking the garbage out and one of my neighbors was standing with her door open and looking very distressed. I had not met her; she didn’t speak English and I only know a few words in Spanish.
“Ven adentro”, she said. I went in and we spent about thirty minutes talking. After some sign language and mixed conversation, I heard her grief story of moving here from New York, where all her friends still live. Her phone, her only lifeline, had been out for a week and the silence had taken its toll. We shared the same grief, fear, loneliness and isolation.
As Carmen and I became friends, she inspired me to learn Spanish while she works on her English.
When I told this story to my husband, he told me that God plants us where our ministry is, and it’s up to us to recognize it. Getting caught up in my own problems had kept me from reaching out and receiving not only friendship, but also discovering that God had been acting on my behalf all along.
Puedo siempre confiar en el Señor.
Patti Austin is a churchwide executive board member living in Decatur, Georgia.
Photo by WIndell Oskay. Used with permission.