Guest Post by Susan VandePol
Their visits didn’t look at all like what I would have thought they should look like — if I had any time to think about it. “They” are the ones who came, the ones who showed up to care for us. And none of them really knew what to do. But…they came, and their selfless acts continue to bear beautiful fruit in our lives, though my husband died years ago on a rainy afternoon in April.
We all tend to keep our weaknesses to ourselves, but sometimes we don’t even know we’re weak…or don’t want to admit it if we do. And that’s the kind of weakness that can hurt others.
You would’ve thought since we were the obvious “weak” in the situation, the others who came would be the “strong.” But that was not the case. Weakness can be self-centered or other-centered; proud or humble. Jesus set the standard, and the often-awkward weakness of those who came to cheer us, and often to weep, became our strength. That’s because in our weakness He is strong.
The kids and I spent every breath and moment in what seemed like a netherworld as we walked through the Valley of the Shadow. I couldn’t come to a place of digesting what death offered. All those years of loving husband, friend and dad, and then, (to be honest) the reward seemed a mockery. He died.
One night, a family from up the street chose to be the hands and heart of God, despite their fear and despite what others may have thought. They were professional but off-the-beaten-path musicians, and brought what they had and who they were, which meant kazoos and hula-hoops. Up until that point, I hadn’t considered the fact that Jesus could play the kazoo or was proficient at hula-hooping. But it turns out He can. So my neighbors sang and played and whirled their hoops and we all laughed until we cried. Their little ones brought crayon works of art that I still treasure, and I’m healed once again by their love as I remember.
We thought we were the caregivers, but that night, we were the cared-for.
I’m glad “they” didn’t look like what I would have thought. I’m glad they came; all of them. That night, Jesus didn’t look like what many thought He would, and because He played the kazoo and hooped some moves, I was able to face tomorrow. And so can you.
About the author: Susan Vandepol is the widow of Los Angeles City Firefighter Robert Ortega. When Robert suffered a work-related injury, Susan became his full-time caregiver. She is an author, conference and retreat speaker, and founder of “A Life After Breath Experience – A Widow’s Calling” retreats.