Today was my last day volunteering with the hospital’s Life Story program. For the past couple of months, I’ve spent a few afternoons a week visiting with patients and asking them to tell me their story. I would then write and frame a one-page summary, which we would put by their bedside for doctors, nurses and visitors to enjoy. We’d also include a copy in the patient’s medical record for future references. It’s been a blessing to meet so many great people, as well as to stay in the habit of writing regularly. Then, yesterday, the Lord showed me a greater purpose He had in opening the door to this volunteer opportunity.
I used to pray that He would send me to patients who don’t know Him. I thought maybe I could somehow be a ray of His light in their lives. But most of the time, I’d find myself listening to a patient describe the comfort of the Lord’s love, their passion for seeing His glory, and how He’s sustaining them through their illness. These stories were always light on life-details (jobs, hobbies, etc.) and heavy on personal testimony.
I realized last night that this is why the Lord put me in that position – not to write the patients’ stories as individuals, but to write His story as Father to us all.
Those testimonies of His love and faithfulness will be in the patients’ chart forever, accessible to dozens of doctors and nurses in the fture. Think of how many people go in and out of a hospital room everyday who would be exposed to these truths about God.
I wondered why He wasn’t sending me to people I could reach, but now I see that He was sending me to people whose own testimonies could ripple through the lives of countless others – they just needed to be told!
Side note: A few days ago, I visited with a man and his family as they told me all about his rich life as an educator, a musician and a father. Everyone clearly loved this guy, and his daughter said this was actually the first time she was learning some of these details about her dad. His memory had not been good lately, but here he was telling old stories, revealing secrets and reliving past glories. I learned today that he’s in the ICU and about to go home in hospice care. His wife told Charlie that it’s such a comfort to them that they have a record of his story – his memories and his words. Isn’t the power of storytelling amazing?
I’ve been intentional in the past few years to ask my grandmothers more personal questions (such as “what was it like growing up during the War? Were you scared to live in Jackson, MS, in the 1960s?, etc.) It’s incredible to think about the lives they’ve lived and all the many details I’ve never known even about my own family. I would encourage you to take the time to ask the people you love about themselves and then really listen – something magical happens when people feel free to tell their story!