How can we be wholly illuminated on our job, in our marriage, and with our families and friends?
This week while scrolling through social media I read a meme (below) that described my week or parts of my whole existence.
The meme, along with the raw words written by a friend, pierced me. Her vulnerability at that moment ministered to me. It went to a place in my soul that needed a bandage. It helped me cry. I believe there is rainwater from heaven in every droplet of our tears. Feelings are meant to be felt.
When I started this blog last week, I had no idea that I would add a portion exposing my vulnerability, but here I am.
Some of us have a point on a map, a calendar, a datebook locked in our brain, and we can tell you the exact moment of the car wreck, the diagnosis, or our child that died before it ever learned to talk or even before it exited the womb. There is a moment in time where we look back at the shattered glass, the addiction, the iron bars, the chemo, the foreclosure, the divorce papers, the bruises, the rape, the welfare department, the mental break down, or the charade of pretending to be put together when we were one button shy of falling apart!
Yes, we all have our moments, and some of us have another type of trauma. In World War II, with gunfire and bullets whipping around his head, my uncle, wading in freezing waters, stopped and threw his hands in the air and cried, “The war is over!” Of course, it wasn’t. He just had wishful thinking. He had seen too many bodies stacked in piles– stripped of all dignity— He had seen and smelled enough death.
But, some of us don’t have one memory or one vivid scar—it’s not one childhood adventure filled with nightmares, but more of a series of unfortunate events—sometimes it is an everyday battle just to get through.
We wonder how we can take another step—breathe– trust again–go back out into the world and try and be a candle burning for someone else. We, too, cry and throw our arms to heaven, exclaiming, “The war is over!” I’m exhausted, Father. Take the pain, sorrow, shame, guilt, confusion, debt, unbelief, sickness, and trauma and take my weapons of fear. Take the bars I have built to protect me. Take the suffering.
Job took broken pottery, and he scraped his sores. He came to a place where he was okay with death. As a matter of fact, he welcomed death. He said the thing he feared the most had come upon him, but what was that thing?
He starts at the beginning of chapter three, cursing the day of his birth. Job wishes that he had never been born because his pain is so deep. He explains how those in the grave are at rest. (Job 3:16-17).
“Why is light given to the miserable, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death that does not come, and search for it like hidden treasure, who rejoice and greatly exult when they can find the grave?” (Job 3:20-22, BSB).
One morning, in the midst of some of the worst pain I have ever felt, I awoke to this pain in terror that I was going to have to get through another day of suffering. I prayed to die. I quoted Job verbatim. Then I heard an echo, “Do you not value the life I’ve given you? Do you not hope for better days?”
Job feared a death that would not come and relieve him of his suffering. He feared he wasn’t going to get to escape such misery. He had lost children, cattle, oxen, servants, and he was suffering so severely. He wasn’t a man steeped in fear. He was a righteous man who wanted to go rest. I remember relating to such words. “Just take me Abba! I’m finished here. What good am I to anyone laying here suffering? I have nothing left here to do!” But I was much mistaken. I hadn’t even tasted what God had in store for me.
What does it look like when we use all our experiences and healing to help another heal? What does it look like when we embody Him and are a light? A candle. A burning flame that can’t be hidden because His light outshines all the darkness we’ve been through?
What if The Father of Glory wanted to come and spend an evening with you? What would that look like? What did Pentecost/Shavuot and the tongues of fire sound like (Acts 2)?
We often imagine what it would have been like to walk with Yeshua/ Jesus. To intently listen to Him tell parables, but what about as we go through our repetitious life? A typical workday or weekend. What would that look like to meet the risen Savior face to face? I’m talking about something fragrant. Something memorable. Something hard to even articulate.
You may have gathered from my previous blog that I don’t like to be at the hospital without my husband. Our first night back at the hospital, he slept on a couch next to me. By the second evening, between his back and his hip, he was ready to go home and get some much-needed rest. Before he left, he came over and said a simple prayer asking The Father to watch over me and protect me while we were apart. He also prayed for the Father to send compassionate people to care for me. What a very precious husband I have.
After he left, I was exhausted and a tad anxious, but I was prepared to try and rest until he returned. If you’ve ever spent much time in a hospital, you know it’s challenging to get any rest with pain, nurses coming in and out, beeping IV’s, as well as bathroom help, and so forth. On my second return to this hospital, I had some of the best nurses I’ve ever come in contact with. However, there was one that seemed explicitly handcrafted for me. I’ll call her Daffodil.
I’m fast asleep, and around 8 pm, I hear my door open. I turn, sleepy-eyed, and look up at this woman who has just entered my room. She is tall– with a smile that made her eyes shine. She did not walk but seemed to sashay around the room in ballet slippers, softly checking this and that.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Manning; I’ll make a note that you’re an early sleeper so that I won’t disturb your rest.”
“Oh, I’m not an early sleeper. In fact, I’m a night owl. I was dozing from the medicine.”
We began to talk, and before we knew it, we were knee-deep in cooking shows. The Great British Bake-off. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were our first topic.
“Did you know that Mary contracted polio at the tender age of 13 and had a weaker arm due to it?
“No, I did not know that.”
“And did you know Paul would help her roll out her dough and prepare items?”
“Really,” I said, trying to sit up more.
“I think Paul looks like the guy from American Idol.”
“Oh, Simon!” Yes! Ha-ha!”
She laughed heartily, and then we were off to our next cooking adventure. Daffodil expressed her aspirations to create fabulous food. Her stories of family and grandparents who loved to bake were sprinkled throughout. I discussed my mom’s homemade carrot cake, and she described a delicate Italian cream cake made by her grandmother. The conversation was light but personal. We left baking and then traveled to World War II episodes on Netflix. Soon, we were reliving Foyle’s War, Land Girls, and Call the Midwives. Before I knew it, we were sailing on to authors and our all-time favorite books.
When Daffodil smiled, her light lit up the room. She exclaimed, “I love books! I love the smell of books!” I responded with an unquestionable, “YES!” Like fresh crayons in kindergarten. We giggled like school girls. Her phone buzzed, and she had to scurry off to another room. Suddenly, I felt revived. She was one of my people, and I was going to be blessed with her light for the next three days.
We discovered we lived very close to one another, right down the road from Barnes and Noble bookstore—a landmark. I mentioned my new grandson.
“Oh, I bet you just want to eat him up!”
She began to tell me about her nephew, who had high jacked her heart.
“Even if I have worked all night, need to clean, do laundry and catch up on things, one call from him “Aunt Daffodil can we go out?” and I am like “Baby, yes, we can!”
Suddenly, we laughed, and I had to hold my side, which was still very sore, to release the joy I felt. She caused me to forget my pain—my fear, and that my husband wasn’t coming back until morning.
Since the surgery, I have met two stoma nurses, both kind and good at what they do. Their profession is to try and prepare people to change a colostomy bag and empty it. For me, it was overwhelming and quite frightening to take in. It was humbling. You notice things and smells and the level of care. Since I had been back in the hospital with my wound, no one had helped me one on one, but Daffodil did. She took me in the bathroom and equipped me with gloves, tips for spraying, cleaning, and deodorizing the room, and she did it with the most compassion I’ve ever felt from any human. I wasn’t embarrassed, humiliated, or even scared to allow her to help me, help myself. This woman snuck into my room over and over again. She learned I was a writer of fiction and devotionals and wanted to know how to order my books.
She never told me about her religious beliefs. She never preached to me. She never quoted scriptures. No politics. No pushing or pulling, but her words held LIFE—her tongue FRUIT.
Daffodil walked into my room like a candlelit burning brightly–like a flower pouring out fragrance. She bowed lowly. My husband witnessed her in her other patient’s chambers as he walked down the hall, and he said: “She is that bright no matter where she goes.” That BRIGHT. Like a candle on a lampstand. Oh, Saints, we can be those candles! We can be the hope of glory!”
CCR, Credence Clearwater Revival, has a song called “Long as I can see the light.” John Fogerty bellows for us to put a candle in the window.
“If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” Luke 11:36.
What does Yeshua tell us before this? “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.”
Thank you, Daffodil, for being a light to me, and thank you, Abba Father, for hearing my husband’s prayer and bringing light into my room.
We can heal from all the trauma by shining our lights on those in need. By listening. By praying. By giving sound counsel. By measuring our words. Even at our darkest moments in our most profound misery, we have LIGHT.
My husband’s picture below seemed to shine with extra light, and I wanted to personally thank him for being a bright light in my life for seven years now. Blessings friends. SHINE!
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I love “Wholly Illuminated.” Brutally honest in testimony, and so worthy of being heard by others. I thought of that verse “fear hath torment.” [1 John 4:18] and then, of the many, many times the Scriptures say, “Fear not.” Easier said than done! Most of us hide our fears, but then someone such as you comes along, unmasks themselves in a overwhelming bold confession, and it begs us to be honest with ourselves about our own faith and fear.
I thank God for you, Bon-Bon, and for Nurse Daffodil, and for ‘Rabbi’ Jeff, (LOVE that picture!). Those two people, one a stranger/angel and the other your most nearest companion and friend. They were the hands of Jesus to you in a time of great need.
I love your heart. Your spirit. Your voice. ~charlie
I love you Char Char! You have been a divine blessing and friend to me. A mother. A mentor. A sounding board and I love your voice too.
My face is wet with tears reading you truly honest and open and healing testimony, Takoa. I love Abba and Yeshua. He has taken such good care of me all my 75 years. But I have fears, too. Mine are being old, what if….., etc. I won’t name them. I mention them to my 83 year old husband of almost 14 years, and I’m told I shouldn’t feel that way. Thank you, dear friend, for letting me just feel how I feel this beautiful Shabbat morning. What a gift you and my Abba have given me! Thank you!
Now I’m wet with tears! Praise the Father of heaven for every new day we face. Perfect love cast out fear.
May your Sabbath be filled with His shalom. I love your pen name—Abba’s girl. Keep calling your 75 year old self a girl, a daughter , a child of The Most High. He sees you.
I have never had a day that caused me to fear I would not die, but that i had to suffer through the day ahead of me. And because of that it is hard to imagine, hard to relate to…but what a privilege to know a woman who does know this suffering personally.And remains a light to others. That I do know, have experienced.have felt.
Also I know….. This testimony silences the critic. It lifts the depressed. It brings hope. You said Daffodil didn’t talk ‘religion’ or politics. no sound bites. or bumpersticker quotes. I find remarkable that her light enabled you to be unembarrassed and filled with peace. There seem to be oxymorons yet in careful reading word by word I find a world, a book, a bible full of lessons.pictures.illustrations to hear and see.
In reading, astonishment and compassion rise, tears fall but in the end your goal is understood and I am challenged and energized by His Spirit to be me-with-His-Light not someone else.not another.not mundane but a life from Him and filled with promise.We may not get out alive; in Him we do get Life eternal. ‘He has us in hand’ is a double-meaning shelter.
And in the end I am speechless with the profound. thank you. thank you Jeff. thank you daffodil. May blessing abound!
“And there it is, the challenge to be me with His Light and not someone else. Not mundane but a life in Him.”
Perfect love cast out fear for fear has torment.
You are such a blessing to me. Thankful Abba sent you into my life. Keep encouraging and sprinkling, sparkling, and smelling like Daffodils 😁
I loved your words I quoted above . Guess I should have added that.