Roxie, the stressed-out activities director at Cove Creek Assisted Living, wonders how to address a challenge in her life. She asks the only person she can really trust, one of her beloved residents – Reverend G.
Reverend G was on her third trip around the hallways of Cove Creek, as she walked in her turquoise sweats and white Nike’s. Her stomach grumbled, but she ignored it, promising herself she would finish one more lap before she ate anything.
Roxie poked her head out of her office, “Psst, Reverend G. Can you come in here for a minute?”
“Sure I can, dearie. What can I do for you?”
Although plagued with occasional dementia and early-onset Alzheimers, Reverend G still loved ministering to anyone who asked. She actually felt most alive when someone asked her to help them with a problem. And Roxie was one of her favorite people in the whole world – except for her beloved Jacob and his lovely wife, Jessie. And, of course, Gabriel, Reverend G’s gifted cat.
“I have a problem, Reverend G.” Roxie motioned to a chair. “Have a seat, please. I’d like your advice.”
Reverend G sat in the chair opposite Roxie’s desk and put on her pastoral counseling face. Listen carefully, she told herself. Try to concentrate.
Oh God, oh God – help me to know what to say. Roxie looks troubled.
Roxie started with a sigh, then she looked at the ceiling, then back to her fingernails and finally – right across her desk at Reverend G.
“You see, I have this problem with one of the staff. I won’t tell you which one, but you can probably guess because she has flaming red hair and she flips it around in my face whenever we have staff meetings and she’s always lording it over me just because she has the corner office.”
“Got it.” The director, Ashley, younger than Roxie and less experienced in dealing with the aging population, but with a masters’ degree in administration. She was hired to run the place. As far as Reverend G knew, Ashley effectively administered all the ins and outs of Cove Creek. But evidently, Roxie had a problem with her.
“I’ve tried and tried to like this person, but every time I get close to barely tolerating her – my old angry self takes over. I know that’s not Christian of me, but that’s how I feel. So…now I’ve confessed to you. What can I do about my bad attitude?”
Reverend G thought for a moment. Oh God, oh God, please Father – don’t let the Alzheimers take over right now. I need a clear answer for Roxie and maybe a visual example. Please and thank you, sir.
“Well, dearie, I could give you lots of theological jargon, but you already know what you should do. We’re told to love others as much as we love ourselves, but sometimes that’s really hard.”
“For sure. Like I said, I’ve tried and tried for a long time.”
Reverend G pointed to the ivy that grew on Roxie’s desk. She turned the orange pot around so that Roxie could see the newest leaf that grew in one corner of an ivy trail.
“See this baby ivy? It’s almost impossible to see, but it’s growing right here in the corner. See?”
Roxie nodded her head.
“How hard do you think this ivy worked to make that leaf happen?”
“I water it twice a week and once a year, I give it fertilizer.”
“Yes, dearie – you’ve done these things to help the ivy grow. But what has the ivy done? Do you think it grunts and groans every night, trying to make a new leaf happen?”
“Of course not. It’s just programmed to keep growing. Making new leaves is what the ivy does naturally.”
“Exactly. God programmed this ivy to grow new leaves, and it does that without even trying. Certainly, you help to keep it healthy, but the plant itself just depends on the DNA God put within it. Its new fruit, its new leaves, grow naturally.”
“I don’t get it, Reverend G. What do you mean?”
Reverend G smiled. “When you became a Christian, dearie, God planted his Holy Spirit inside you. That planting gave you the freedom to live the Christian life without trying so hard. God’s love is in you already, and all you have to do is let God love the director through you. When it’s hard to do what is right, just let God do it naturally through you.”
“Really? It’s that easy?”
“I’m not saying it’s easy, because our selfishness gets in the way and our own personalities sometimes sabotage relationships with other people. But what I’m saying is that if you let him, God will love Ashley through you. Pray for her as you pray for yourself and then just let him do the loving. Okay, dearie?”
“Okay. I’ll give it a try…I mean…I’ll let God do it through me. Thanks, Reverend G. And now, is there anything I can do for you?”
©2013 RJ Thesman