When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
~ Matthew 9:36
One thing we are learning through this time of isolation and distancing, is that we may have discovered, what we might consider, weaknesses. I recently shared that I suffer from anxiety. This is not good when you are being called to help others in the midst of a pandemic.
I literally experienced a panic attack while sitting in my car about a month ago just before I was being asked to go into an ICU to visit with a patient coming onto hospice with his family. I did not know what to expect, and it was the first time that I knew I was entering an environment where I could potentially be exposed to the virus that we knew much less about than we do now. As I gathered my things to make the visit, I suddenly couldn't breathe and I felt pressure on my chest.
I just remember thinking, "If I don't do this, then I probably have to quit my job."
It was so paralyzing, and I just remember sitting in my car and praying, "God, you know how I am feeling right now. I need your help to have peace. I need you to carry this for me, because right now I'm feeling pretty weak."
There was not some great epiphany that happened, but I was able to get myself together enough to enter the building and do what I needed to do for work and for the family that I was being called to help. I have to admit, I think that my anxiety got the best of me. I fumbled through the conversation, became "chatty" with the coworker that I was meeting for the first time, and when it was all over, I felt very defeated in many ways.
I just remember saying in my mind, "Todd, that was certainly not your 'best self.'"
When we are not afraid to confess our own weaknesses, we will be able to work with others in theirs. I don't like it when my weaknesses are very real and present in front of me, but there is something about being able to claim what they are without fear.
The Christ who lives in our own weaknesses recognizes the Christ who lives in the weaknesses of others. Just as we are inclined to ignore our own weaknesses, we are inclined to ignore others'. We struggle when we recognize the person in the mirror, who we thought was a stranger, is actually us. We prefer not to see people who struggle because often it reminds us of our own weaknesses.
It makes us want to distance ourselves in a way that prevents us from being present for one another in our weakness.
By this avoidance, we lose touch with those whom God is manifested to us. But when we have discovered God in our own weaknesses, we will lose our fear of being weak, and find the way to go to them to meet God.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.