Joyce Suttin is a retired teacher, writer, and frequent contributor to Activated magazine. She lives in San Antonio Texas with her husband and has an on-line ministry excerpting, editing, and writing inspirational material. Check out her blog.
I met my friend Laura when I was 13 years old, when a neighbor brought her to our house. We exchanged home phone numbers and very quickly became best friends. Having a best friend was a new experience for me. I was thrilled that someone wanted to be my friend—not a family friend or my older sisters’ friend or somebody I knew from church or school, but someone I could call and talk with and spend time with on the weekends.
When my first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, I wasn’t worried, I was angry. For weeks, I held it in, but finally, I literally raised my fist at God and told Him off. “You failed me!” was the gist of it.
Later, I realized I was already a couple of days pregnant when I had ranted. Holding a beautiful baby boy in my arms nine months later, I laughed at myself and my misguided words. I also asked God for forgiveness.
I have such a clear memory of it. I woke up early on a summer morning and looked outside to see only white. I rubbed my eyes, thinking there was something wrong with them, then decided to explore. I stepped out onto the porch and down the steps and was amazed to feel like I was in the middle of a cloud. I walked a few feet and spun around, then I realized that I didn’t know where I was. I was only steps from the porch, but I didn’t know which way it lay.
He lay covered in white hospital sheets, hooked up to a tangle of tubes and wires. As I approached, I barely recognized him—the pasty skin, the sunken cheeks—but when he opened his eyes and smiled at me, it was all I could do to keep from jumping into his arms like I always had. Grandpa, whom I loved more than anyone else in the whole world, had had a serious heart attack.
I love tending my garden, but I have a problem sometimes with flowers. I love to buy a few each spring and enjoy them through the long summer days, tending them and watering them and admiring their beauty. I just have a hard time letting go of them as they begin to turn yellow and die.
There are some verses I’ve had a very difficult time with. One of them is “Pray continually.”1 That verse is often on my mind, and I’ve learned how important it is to pray. I pray a lot, but I don’t pray continually, so I’ve often felt guilty about not praying enough.
I was watching an interview last Sunday, and the guest was asked, “What’s the greatest need in the world today?” Without hesitation, he responded, “Empathy. The world needs more empathy.”
I probably would have responded, without thinking, that the world needs more love. But I liked his answer. It was much more specific to say that the world needs more empathy.
One or two things going wrong in my week aren’t the end of the world. I can handle a few bad things. I know that every week has its allotment of issues, and I’m used to dealing with that. I can generally stay quite cheerful and look on the bright side.
But last week was an exception. It seemed like something went wrong every day. I’m not talking about little nuisances, but some pretty big things. Every day held a surprise, and they weren’t happy ones.
The tree trimmers finally showed up. I’d been nervously waiting for them, both looking forward to them pruning my trees and also terrified of what the outcome might be. I’d known for a long time that the trees needed to be trimmed, but a part of me loved the wild “jungle” growth, and I’d waited way too long before calling them.
I’d been going through a few tough weeks, when I began questioning my faith. Not questioning God, but questioning how much faith I had to face difficulties. I’d also been concerned about growing older, berating myself for becoming such a wimp, not able to keep up as I used to. So I gratefully accepted an invitation from my daughter Madi to go hiking in a place called Enchanted Rock.