On a recent Sunday, I was moved by this reading:
Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.
When I learned that I needed to do chemotherapy, people who have traveled this road told me that I would need help. What kind of help? No one could say.
So in my fantasy world, I imagined teachers who were super compassionate with our children, or specific friends who would step in to provide logistical or emotional support.
Like most (if not all) of my fantasies, it bore no relation to reality. Teachers did their best but were not compassionate in the super-human way that I envisioned. The friends who I thought would be my rock either disappeared or needed more support than I did. Sometimes I felt disappointed or let down that people were not acting according to my expectations.
Fortunately, I was so ripped apart that I could not possibly direct anything in my life toward the way I thought it “should be.” As a result, I was wide open to anything. And people, amazingly, stepped into those openings in our lives in ways I would never have envisioned or directed on my own.
Friends, who I never knew could cook, crafted amazing meals and drove (sometimes long distances) to deliver them. Others, who lead completely booked lives, offered to drive me to appointments or chauffeur my children hither and yon. Old friends call, text, email or show up at the just the right time, and continue to include us in social invitations. Although I felt like a lost cause and not worthy of new friendships, some of my most treasured friends today are the ones who stepped into our lives after my diagnosis, who even visit me at home, encourage me to try new things, and lift me with their energy. The fact that they befriended someone who thought she was on her way out the door of this life constantly reminds me that life starts new every single minute.
People have done things for us that I never imagined we would need or want, but have made our lives infinitely better and our foundation more stable. They helped us to grow.
So when I read this part of Corinthians, all those people flooded into my heart. At some point long ago, I would have assumed that one action would be more helpful or important than another. But as time progressed, each action of our friends and family felt like the perfect workings of God through that individual. Gifts all, given and openly shared. Each unique, and each filled with Spirit.
With gratitude and love,