I remember when my great-grandmother lost the use of her limbs after a stroke. Her despair was great when she told me, “I can’t do anything for anyone anymore.” She felt useless, like she had no purpose for living. It was true that she was bound to a bed and required lots of care that she hadn’t needed before. I realized where she was coming from. This was a woman who had made the front page of a newspaper in her 80’s for taking computer classes and getting herself a new job. She had routinely organized social events for the senior center, and still made time to fix applesauce and bread with butter for her grandchildren over the weekend. She was always busy, always providing things for others. Full of life and activity.
“Grandma,” I told her. “You can still give us your wisdom. We are so glad that you’re here.” I took her by the hand, a hand that had guided me through tracing my ABCs, and stroked her pink-polished nails. She didn’t need her glasses anymore, but her warm chocolate eyes still closed with peace at the sound of an old hymn. She could no longer hold a pen with steadiness, but she could dictate recipes, share in retelling memories, and ask me to write to a widow that she hadn’t seen in years but wanted to make sure wouldn’t be forgotten.
You see, my grandmother’s family didn’t need the host of the best Thanksgiving party anymore. She had taught us all how to appreciate one another already. The fact was, we just wanted her. We loved her. Regardless of what she could give us now, she had already given us more than enough—an abundance of her warmth and spirit.
I think of her often now that I’ve had some experience with chronic pain myself. It is hard to look my children in the eyes and tell them that Mommy cannot get up and play today. Doing that makes me feel like a failure as a mother, and it is so frustrating when my wishes don’t match up with my ability. But my sweet son just says, “Okay,” covers me up with his pint-sized blanket, and watches T.V. next to me on the couch. It is when my past love and teaching is reflected back to me that I am reminded that my children won’t stop valuing me because Dad made the peanut-butter and jelly this evening. It is my existing relationship with my family that matters to them, and it is a status I cannot lose through illness or a lack of perfection.
There is something special about each of us that is heaven-sent. For that reason, no matter what happens to us here on earth, we can know that we are worthy and loved for the beauty within us, bestowed upon us by God. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
We can’t lose these spiritual treasures by physical trials (Matthew 6:19-21). And we can’t lose our status in Christ because we just don’t measure up anymore. Consider Titus 3:5-7: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Though the world may make us feel like we need to catch up and prove ourselves, there is marvelous peace and rest to be found in the teachings of our Savior. We are important because of WHOSE we are, and may we trust in his plan for us more and more every day.
Please feel free to share this article with someone who is irreplaceable to you. Life can get discouraging, so let’s spread the good news and appreciation around!