How Sadness Showed Me God’s Presence

~ Are you one who makes your own abbreviations for words? For instance, ‘E’ is the letter I type instead of encephalitis, the word used most often to describe the illness I had years ago.

That illness caused me to forget what the names of many people, places, and things were called. (I jokingly call it my noun illness. After all, I have to find some humor in it.) It also affected my spelling, making it harder for me to glue in certain words: ‘E’ being one of them. Excuse me, I mean encephalitis.

Since there were many other things I was working on recalling—who my family and friends were, what certain items I was being shown were used for—food was far from the top of my list of what to work on to remember.  But, I still had to eat.

From that one day in the first hospital when I ‘woke up,’ they slowly but surely got me back to eating. However, sitting up on my bed was, to me, the only place to eat, having known of no other place . . . yet. Finally, one unforgettable day took place in the second hospital. I had my first experience eating in a room with other patients. No biggie for most twenty-three-year olds to eat with other people around, but for me, it was a day I’ll never forget.

“Now, Marianne, many patients eat together in this room,” my nurse told me as we walked down the hall to the dining room. “Everyone here is like you: all healthy enough and physically able to eat in this room together, but having a tough time remembering things. A few of you will sit at different tables, while a few people who work here will bring you your food.”

fotolia_106265296As I slowly looked around at all those tables, the nurse showed me where to sit. I’m glad she did, because there was no way was I able to think where to sit when I didn’t really love the idea of sitting next to strangers. Even people I’d known for years still seemed a little like strangers to me, but I knew these people I’d eat with really were strangers.

Once sitting, I was just like all the others: silent. While looking around, I noticed that the majority of those around me looked down-and-out. Sure, illness was to blame, but it still seemed far too negative to me. I had a brain-damaging illness, also, but I just didn’t get why I felt a bit more peace-filled than most of the others seemed to be.

After we got our food I’ll never forget what I asked that lady who put my plate down.

“What is this I’m eating?” as I looked at this brown, ball shaped something about the side of my fist.

“Tonights dinner comes with a baked potato. Here’s some butter if you’d like some.” No way in the world will I forget staring at that baked potato. Now remember what in the world it was. I just stared at it for a minute or two. After we all started eating, we slowly started talking to other patients or to those who were serving us. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the ones who had this negative glow around them.

They shouldn’t seem so upset about so much. It just makes being here harder. I feel sorry for them. They should be happier.

Seeing all that hit me hard, for some reason.

I asked my nurses as we walked back to my room afterwards one important question. 
“Why are they like that?”

sparks inside illustration of head

“Their brains have similar problems as yours and many get mad at almost anything because they are sick and tired of working hard at remembering. There are really only a few like you who do not get angry while here working on memory.”

After that unforgettable baked potato meal, I ate in that room many times, eventually getting a bit more comfortable sitting with those few who were willing to be more positive. That first meal, however, is the one that stood out.

Why is this on my ‘Must Share’ list? Because is was at that time, I realized God was with me in that hospital. Even though I couldn’t understand it all at that moment, as days went by I realized it was because God, my Father, was holding me, the Holy Spirit was inside me, and Christ was sitting right there next to me . . . and those potatoes.

Thank you, Lord, for giving your children with a bit more peace, even when we aren’t clear what it is we are going through.

Romans 8:26 – 
Likewise, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses. for we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  (NKJV)

Marianne Petersen’s book God and My Pillow is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 
Follow Marianne on Instagram and Facebook.

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