by Sherry Bitler
…but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity show yourself an example of those who believe.
1 Timothy 4:12 NASB
Through my MS, God has taught me that getting aggravated hampers my physical well-being. The dictionary defines aggravation as “an act or circumstance that intensifies something or makes something worse”. Aggravation can also hamper our spiritual well-being. I remember one specific situation, when my husband and I had offered to help one of our children with a family need.
Circumstances made it difficult for our son to leave work and drive our grandson to the allergist, so we offered to help by taking our grandson to his appointment. Walking into the office, we headed to the receptionist. I asked if I needed to sign in, we had never been to this office before, but assumed the standard routine was followed. A room full of empty chairs allowed our choice of seating to be easy. There were two doors at the back of the office where various people came and left. After a while, I was able to discern that one door was for appointments with the doctor and the other door was for patients that were simply receiving an allergy shot.
All signed in and settled in our seats, the wait began. After 30 minutes with no call, I stood up, walked toward the receptionist and glanced at the sign in chart. Our grandson’s name had been crossed off and she quietly nodded and said, “You are next”. I smiled and returned to my seat.
Another 45 minutes passed as we watched the activity in the office. At this point, my husband was getting impatient. Our grandson was fidgety, but behaving age appropriate. Finally, one of the nurses who had been coming out to call patients asked if we had been waiting for an appointment. We said yes, assured her we had signed in and connected with the receptionist. After double-checking, the receptionist realized she had placed our grandson’s chart in the wrong spot. We had been totally overlooked.
The entire office staff looked like a deer caught in the headlights, shock and remorse clearly filled their faces. The receptionist who had made the mistake apologized profusely. Distressed, they scurried around and promised to get us to the doctor right away. Once back in the examining room, the nurse apologized over and over. I remember commenting, that we all make mistakes, after all we are only human. Even when the doctor entered the room it was apparent she had been notified of the mistake. Her examination began with alarm and repeated apologies.
God gave me grace! I was a little surprised myself at how calm I was. I immediately realized it was Jesus at work. The doctor seemed to be completely mystified by my calm reaction. As she kept remarking about my attitude, I continued to respond with the importance of overlooking unintentional mistakes in others. God chose to teach me this important lesson through the experience of my physical diagnosis of MS. “Through my MS, God has taught me that getting aggravated hampers my physical well-being.”
It may not feel good when we are overlooked, as in this situation at the doctor’s office. More importantly, as a child of God, when we are overlooked in a spiritual sense – as we are called to die to self (our wants, our comforts, our good health, and expectations) – or when we choose to overlook mistakes in others, we model forgiveness and enjoy the spiritual peace that comes from living out the Gospel.
I enjoy not only the spiritual blessing of peace when I obey the exhortation of 1 Timothy 4:12, but I also enjoy the being less physically hampered when I choose to obey God’s word as I live each day with my health challenges.
We never know when God will give us an opportunity to impact the lives of others, like the one Butch and I were given with the office staff that day. Despite the inconvenience of the mistake, God gave me the grace to serve His bigger purpose. I walked out of the office in awe of God’s grace, rather than in irritation at being overlooked.
Dear Lord, thank you for filling me with an attitude of grace in this circumstance. I want to be consistent in my walk with you so that this is my usual response to being overlooked. Help me to ‘catch’ that You are at work when my response is more about You than about me. Help me not to miss being in awe of Your work. Please help me to be living gratefully for the Gospel.
Sherry Bitler is the founder of a local traditional Christian School, a home school cooperative school, and a summer program for children at a popular Christian Conference Center. She is spiritual mother to hundreds of young women. Challenged by her daughter-in-law, she began writing a blog, The Grateful Grammie, several years ago as part of her legacy to her grandchildren. She loves time with her husband of 47 years, their four children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren. Sherry shares more about living with Multiple Sclerosis in this interview: When MS is Your Constant Companion.