A number of years ago, I was hit with an auto-immune disease that attacked my inner ear. This impacted my hearing and balance in very dramatic and awful ways. On bad days, the world spun so fast that all I could do was cling onto the toilet bowl like it was a life preserver. On good days, I was incredibly dizzy and unable to leave the house.
During an attack, the only way I could keep from being violently ill was to remain motionless for sometimes up to 30 hours at a time, staring at a fixed point on the wall until the worst of the attack was over. I couldn’t turn my head even a fraction of an inch without becoming nauseous, and getting out of bed was completely out of the question.
As you can imagine, it was easy for depression to set in when living under those conditions. Unable to read, watch TV, or even visit with anyone without getting ill, my only “entertainment” came from watching the mountain of Kleenex on my bedside table grow as I sobbed about the unfairness and misery of it all.
The worst part however, was the feeling of worthlessness that enveloped me. What good was a dizzy, mess of a woman to God? I wanted so badly to be of service to my Father, but what in the world did a bedridden, housebound woman have to offer anyone?
After much self-pity and crying, here’s what I finally came up with:
While lying in bed, I could pray. I could pray while spinning, I could pray while crying, I could pray while an attack rendered me completely deaf. That’s the beauty of prayer. You can do it anywhere, under any conditions. And so, I would run through the people I knew and pray for their individual needs. This also served to remind me that I wasn’t the only one suffering in this world.
And then, I chose 25 people from my address book. Whenever I could get up for a few hours, I would make cards, assembly-line style. Often the cards and craft supplies littered our dining room table for weeks at a time because I was too ill to finish them. But, once I had 25 done, I would copy off a quick letter, and mail out my cards. I did this every month for a year.
Suddenly, my life had purpose again. Cards could be designed in my head when I had to lay still. Letters could be written the same way. People responded to the cards and shared with me their prayer needs. I was a prayer warrior again. I was of service to God. How awesome is that? A miserably ill woman, stuck in her bed, could be of service to God!
And, as much as I took great joy in this tiny bit of service to others, my cards also brought me a connection to the outside world that I was missing so much. I found that my Kleenex pile wasn’t getting quite as tall as it used to.
Sometimes we’re overwhelmed by what we see others doing in service. I couldn’t open new schools in exotic locations. I didn’t have the power, prestige, or health to raise large sums of money. But, I could lay in my bed and pray, and I could make my little cards to let people know they were loved.
I actually think back on that time with some fondness and that is a true miracle. And, therein lies the truth about service; it gives us as much as it gives others.