A Little Girl Lost

Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

I Begged God

I remember the first person I saw in a wheelchair. I was at the doctor’s office for my kindergarten physical. Who was in the wheelchair? My doctor. He’d had Polio as a child. 

Then, there was Dale, a young man who slobbered and walked funny. He taught me to dance the two-step. He had Cerebral Palsy. At the time, I didn’t know the diseases nor did I know they were disabled. They were my friends.

In seventeen years as a nurse, I saw a multitude of persons with physical disabilities. Some had accepted their disability and functioned well in society, like my childhood friends. Others hadn’t. They were angry and depressed.

In 1991, an automobile accident injured my spinal cord paralyzing me from my shoulders down. Three months into an ICU stay, my neurosurgeon spoke to Earl. “Mr. Dickerson, she’ll be bedridden, ventilator-dependent and have brain damage. You’re too young to be saddled with an invalid wife. We can let her die comfortably.”

Earl remembered his wedding vows, “…in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live.” Earl chose life for me and arranged my transfer to a spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Once stable, off the ventilator, and using a power wheelchair I went to the gym for therapy. My neighbors and I sat in wheelchairs and struggled to feed ourselves. We encouraged each other. I fit in.

Back home no one was like me. Strangers and friends patted my shoulder and called me a “poor thing.” Many stared, ignored, yelled or treated me as a child. I became angry and depressed.

I begged God to heal my spinal cord injury or at least my hands. Nothing. I turned to God’s Word through Bible study and read about Paul’s “thorn in his flesh”.

God’s call for me is to be Christ-centered and bold in my faith as I share what He has done for me. My disability continues but I am a healed child of God first and forever for “By His Stripes, We are Healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Henri J. M. Nouwen described this type of ministry in his book, “The Wounded Healer.” Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine at Asbury Seminary, and author of “Wounds That Heal,” told me, “His wounds have healed you. Now He’s using your wounds to heal others.”

“‘I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me’” (2 Corinthians 7-10 NIV).

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta
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Earl Would Tell You


Earl would tell you how angry I was when we were introduced.

Sitting at the nurses’ station one afternoon I saw him. Tall with dark wavy hair and wearing a blue lab coat, he was walking away down the hall. 
I leaned toward the nurse I was working with and said, “Ralph, do you see that guy?”
“Yeah?”
“I’d like to go out with him.” Now, I never dated men I worked with, and I guarded my private life at work. My heart skipped a few beats. How could I think this, let alone say it out loud.
“Haven’t you met Earl? He’s the chaplain,” Ralph said.
Raising my hands as a shield, I said, “Chaplain? Never mind! I don’t want anything to do with a preacher.” There was no room in my life for a Jesus freak to tell me how to live.
When Earl came back up the hall Ralph called him over, “Earl, this is Bert.”
Earl looked me in the eye, “Hi.”
“Hi.” I looked away. How am I supposed to talk to a chaplain?
Earl worked days and I worked afternoons, and he began calling and inviting me to eat supper with him in the cafeteria. We talked. I told him about my three-year-old daughter, Kari. I tried to explain why I’d left her with her father when we divorced but couldn’t. I filled him in on my nightly escapades at The Caravan—my bar. Maybe I was trying to shock him, but I learned he grew up in North Memphis and had his own stories to tell.
He was a seminary student at Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He was doing an internship in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) there at Methodist Hospital Central in Memphis. I didn’t know what any of that was, and I didn’t ask.
Early in my shift one afternoon in late August, Earl came to see me without calling. “Can you come out by the elevators for a minute?” he asked. We stood alone, “My internship is over and I’m going back to seminary.”
With my arms folded over my chest I asked, “When are you leaving?”
“My car is already packed and ready to pull out. I wanted to say good-bye.”
“When are you coming back?”
“I haven’t decided whether or not I am coming back.”
We hugged for the first time. A moment. And he got on the elevator and was gone.
I didn’t understand what I felt as I remembered his arms around me. The dam burst and tears poured from eyes that had been dry for many years. I told myself I didn’t care about him.
In Christ,
Bert(a)
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A Story of Forgiveness

My father was abusive when I was growing up. When he died, I wasn’t going to attend his funeral but my husband, Earl, insisted I go. Before the service, I walked back and forth from a pew to Dad’s open casket crying violently.

“Why didn’t I ever tell him how much he hurt me!”

After his funeral, I felt purged of anger and hatred toward him.

I was wrong.

Thirteen years later Earl and I attended a marriage seminar called Steps to Setting Your Marriage Free in Christ (Neil T. Anderson). Going in, we each believed we had a good marital relationship. As we worked through the many issues raised, and as we prayed and asked God to show us the truth, we found ourselves discovering things about each other as well as identifying things within ourselves.

God revealed to me a lifetime of rage, anger, hurt and unforgiveness toward my earthly father. Until then I hadn’t realized how much Dad had harmed my emotions and my spirit. The tears came again, though not violently this time. They were cleansing, relieving, and Earl cried with me. We cried for how all my anger and hatred had tarnished our marriage for thirteen years. When I forgave Daddy that day I felt a peace I had never known before.

Often we don’t recognize the unforgiveness within us. We justify our attitudes. A part of making sure our life is clean and right before God has to do with forgiving other people.

Everything we do in life has eternal value that hinges on two things: loving God and loving others. It’s hard to forgive those who have hurt, offended, or mistreated us, but God wants us to love even our enemies and in the process of doing so He perfects us.

God wants you to move into all He has for you. But, if you don’t forgive you’re stuck where you are and shutting off God’s work in your life. Forgiveness opens your heart and mind and allows the Holy Spirit to work freely in you. It releases you to love God more and feel His love in greater measure.

If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).

In Christ Alone,
Berta

What Can One Person Do?

Lost and alone, living in the turmoil of self-hatred and despair I worked in a hospital full of strangers and retreated to a bar each night. I had abandoned my daughter to her abusive, alcoholic father because I believed his words, “You can’t make it without me. You’ll either be back in two weeks or you’ll be dead.” I walked away.

One evening at work, I saw a man in a blue lab coat walking down the hall and asked a fellow nurse, “Who is that?”

“Earl? He’s the chaplain for our floor.”

Anger filled me. How could I be attracted to a preacher? We became friends despite our differences. Then we dated. Then we married. Baptism seemed the right next step for a preacher’s wife, but I didn’t feel “saved.”

Earl’s appointment to a local church helped me get custody of my daughter. As a pastor’s wife, I lived in guilt over my past. My lack of Christian faith and knowledge sent me into a tailspin of insecurity and isolation. Earl struggled with my behavior until I went on a Walk to Emmaus where God ministered His forgiveness of my past and healing for my spirit. Earl continued to love me as he helped me learn about the Savior who died for me.

What can one person do? As I’ve grown in Christian faith, God has placed people in my life who have needed Christian love and guidance. Most recently, I’ve befriended a young mother in need. Her love and dedication to her family and her willingness to share her family’s meager supplies with neighbors who have less has blessed me.

As Christ gave everything for me, if I could do one thing to change a person, I would be like Him and love them.

Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV).

In Christ Alone,
Berta

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