My fingers clutched the mug filled with hot coffee, as if the warmth emanating from the cup might bring me some comfort for the day ahead. I felt afraid and sorely inadequate as I thought about the persons I'd be seeing that day--patients coming for treatment at the methadone clinic. Patients that I knew were trying to figure out life but still using substances, trying to cope. Others not actively using, but without employment, without a permanent place to live. Some survivors of horrible trauma. Others riding three hours by bus just to get to the clinic. Many with no helath insurance, discharged from the hospital too early because they couldn't pay.
I'd been standing by the window in the break room at my office as these myriad thoughts penetrated my mind, the coffee now lukewarm, my fingers cold again. I placed the coffee mug in the microwave and stared out the window, the sun just beginning to break open the morning. I could see a few streaks of lavender beginning to appear through the darkened, leafless tree branches. The microwave "dinged" and pulled me out of my reverie--the sound awakening me to my choices for the day. I could either allow my fears to move me toward oppression, or walk away from them. "God," I prayed. "I do not have answers for my patients. But you do. I choose to walk in your love this day. I know your love for them is so much greater than mine; reflect your goodness, kindness, protection and provision for them through me. I walk by faith, confident in your power, even though I feel weak and helpless. I choose this pathway instead of fear and anxiety."
The day played out in all its intensity. I didn't have answers. I gently confronted. I listened. I reflected. I affirmed. I knew, by God's grace, I loved the people who came to my office. I wasn't afraid.
That afternoon, before I left to go home, a patient whom I'd never met, stopped in my open doorway to ask a question. Before he left, he said, "I like that saying." "Which one?" "That one," he said, pointing to a square sign that read, "Love will save the day."
"I'm a Vietnam vet," he said. "I saw a lot of ugly things in combat, but I always believed that what helped the most when things got so bad is knowing that my buddies loved me, that I loved them. I think that love is more powerful even than war." I'd brought that sign in, not because I thought it was so profound, but rather to cover some unattractive cords and outlets. I pondered what the man said and thought that love covers a lot of unsightly things.
Today I awakened before sunrise, my mind again pelted with negative, oppressive thoughts: "You're just not enough. There's so much more you need to accomplish. Get up and get going. Hurry up. You are truly spiritually inadequate." I knew instinctively that these accusations were not from God. Yet even with this knowledge, I almost succumbed to the lies about myself. Yet once again, I made another choice, just as I had the day before as I stood by that window beginning to light up with the morning. "God, comfort me. I walk toward your dauntless love for me. I receive your kindness and goodness for me. It was almost as if I was a small child who knew to stay in her father's presence on a cold day as she looked out over a gray sea--knew to allow his powerful, loving spirit to hover, knew that his clear, blue sky created a shelter, no matter the strength of the clamoring waves. I stayed. I felt loved. I was not afraid. Love will save the day.
Blessed be God: He didn't turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in His love.~Psalm 66:20 (The Message)