Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Love Token

Thank God for His faithfulness in granting me a very good rest last night. I was very very tired and went to bed before 9pm! I am up early this morning, and very thankful to feel refreshed to serve God again for this day that He has given me.

I pray that today the Lord will help me to remember to pace myself moderately, and I will remember to take breaks and rest in Him, and seek Him in prayers too.

I thank God for His encouragement through His Words in my devotion this morning. I am reminded that I must put God first in all that I do and say daily, and strive to honour Him and do good to others. Sometimes I get too task-oriented, especially when I am manic, as I will be full of energy and ideas during the day time. Sometimes I forget to stop and pray before my tasks. And at times, I become too much of a Martha and forget to be a Mary! I tend to do too many things and forget to spend more time with our Lord in prayer and in His Words. Thank God that He does slows me down and I am still learning to recognize early symptoms of over-straining. I also need much discipline to take breaks and rest! It's hard when my brain is full of ideas, I get very excited and there seemed to be 101 things I think I should do :) Oops, there I go again :)

This morning, I was very encouraged by a short story I reread. Since young, I loved to read. I have a small collections of short stories and quotable quotes which I enjoyed very much.

This morning, I reread "Love Token" and I would like to share with you. It touches my heart and reminded me afresh of what really matters in this life in the various relationships in our life. Hope you will be encouraged too :)

Love Token

From an old woman, a young nurse learns a valuable lesson of life.

Until I met Mrs. Bench, nursing wasn't quite what I had expected. An active imagination had set visions of Florence Nightingale dancing in my head. Instead, I got the three Bs: bathing, bed making and bedpans. As student nurses, we ventured out to practice our skills on patients. That's how I met Mrs. Bench - my first patient. That morning, I bustled in with my equipment and said cheerily, "Good morning, Mrs. Bench. I'm your nurse today."

Mrs. Bench was a tiny, ancient lady with mounds of blue-white hair bunched in a net on top of her head. The rest of her body was the shade of a ripe pumpkin. "What do you want?" Her tone of voice implied I was not to get it.

"I'm here to give you a bath, and make your bed."

"Well, just march yourself right out of here. I don't intend to have a bath today."

Squaring my shoulders, I looked her right in the eye. "Mrs. Bench, my job is to give you a bath. Now, let's get started." To my alarm, big tears formed in her eyes, and trickled into the furrows of her cheeks.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"What's wrong? I'm dying, that's what's wrong. And nobody cares, just as long as I'm clean."

"Did your doctor tell you you're going to die?"

She shook her head. "No, he keeps talking as if I'll be going home, but I'm not fooled."

"Now, now," I said briskly, "have a little faith in your doctor." I ignored her protests and bulldozed ahead into the bath.

The next day, Mrs. Bench anticipated my coming and had her ammunition ready. "Before you do anything," she said, "define 'nursing'."

I eyed her doubtfully. "Well, nursing is hard to define," I hedged. "It has to do with taking care of sick people."

At that Mrs. Bench whisked back the bedspread to reveal a dictionary. "Just as I suspected," she said triumphantly, "you don't even know that you're supposed to do." She flipped the book to a page she had marked and read slowly: " 'To nurse: to tend the sick or aged: to take care of, nourish, foster, develop or cherish.' " She closed the book with a bang. "I'm ready to be nursed. Today, I've a mind to be cherished."

"Good heaven, Mrs. Bench," I said, "what are you talking about?"

Grinning broadly, she patted a chair next to the bed. "Just sit down. Cherishing's easy to learn. You start by listening."

Listen I did. That day and the days to come, she told me her life's story, taking great pains to spell out the lessons life had taught her. Finally, she told me about Mr. Bench. "He was a tall, raw-honed farmer with too short trousers and too long hairs. When he came courting, he tracked mud into the parlor. Of course, I thought I was meant for finer things, but I married him anyway."

"For our first anniversary, I wanted a love token. They were made of etching flowers and entwined initials. They were hung on a fine silver chain, and presented on a special occasion." She smiled and fingered the silver chain she always wore. "The anniversary day came, and Ben up and hitched the wagon to drive into town. In a fever of anticipation, I waited on a slope, looking for the dust in the distance that would mark his coming."

Her eyes clouded. "He never came. Riders found the wagon the next morning. They came out with the news, and this." Reverently, she drew it out. It was faded now from rubbing against her skin, but one side was wreathed with tiny hearts and flowers. The reverse said simply, "Ben and Alma. Love eternal."

"But it's a penny," I said. "Didn't you say they were silver or gold?"

Replacing her jewel, she nodded. Tears rimmed her eyes. "It's sad to admit, but if he'd come home that day, I'd have seen only the penny. As it was, I saw only the love."

I never saw Mrs. Bench again. She died that night. But she left me a precious legacy that has helped make me a better nurse - and a better person.

A few blinks to dislodge the tears, and she faced me with a clear, piercing gaze. "I hope you listened well, young lady. That's the trouble you're having with being a nurse. You only see the penny. You're blind to the love. Remember, don't be fooled by the penny. Look for the love."

I first read this touching account in 1984 and I have typed it out and kept it in my collection. Even now, 24 years later, as I re-typed this touching story to share with you, it still touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes while I was typing. I am reminded afresh of how it will be good for me to learn to appreciate the love of the people around me and not just at what they give to me or do for me. I am also learning to appreciate the love of God and not just His blessings and gifts.

I am learning to cherish my time with family and friends and not just do things for them or make gifts for them. One of the important lessons I learned through my counsellor, Sarah, early last year, was that a meaningful life is found not only in doing meaningful things but also in having meaningful relationships with God and with others. This is a lesson I am still learning to apply in my life, by God's grace, and I am thankful that it is changing my life in many wonderful ways and helping me in my relationships with people around me.

I sometimes think I love too much at times and I get hurt too much because of it. But I am someone who feels deeply and have not learned how to restrain myself. I love my family and friends and maybe at times I tried too hard to please them or make them happy, whether knowingly or unknowingly. But sometimes it also backfired when I am more concerned about doing things for them rather than spending time with them, and loving them through being with them. Giving them gifts and doing things are ways of showing love, but sometimes spending time with them may show them greater love and they may cherish it more. I may be doing things for people, but I forget to spend quality time with them, which is more important to them and matter more to them. I pray God helps me to improve in this aspect.

It is the same in my walk with God and my serving God. I need this reminder too. Sometimes I am too preoccupied with many things I want to do for God in serving Him and I forget to spend more time in prayers and reading of God's Words. God delights in our communion with Him in prayers and reading of His Words. To be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with God. It is not just going to church and serving in as many capacities as possible. These are important and God do delights in our labours of love. But God delights even more when we love Him enough to spend more time with Him in prayers and reading the Bible. It is only by spending time with God that we can know more of His love for us and His goodness to us. It is also the way we learn how best to walk with Him and serve Him, and do good to others.

I need to still my heart and listen to God, before I busy myself with the day's tasks : ) And to remember to spend quality time with God and others around me.

Hope you will also look for love, and not just penny, in your relationships and work, or whatever you do :)

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

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