I Didn’t Want To. But I’m Glad I Did. And You Can Too.

For weeks my sister had been sharing her idea to go to a nursing home and visit the elderly there.

I had the same idea when I was her age, but now that I have my license and could actually do something like that, anxiety gripped me.

I had tentatively agreed to go this afternoon, but when she came to ask if I was ready to go, I totally froze, “Um…I don’t know…like…what will we do? I don’t know what to do.”

I sounded like a kid as I came up with all my excuses and ran back to my comfort zone. My sister didn’t push it. Instead, she walked down the street to visit with an elderly couple that my family has befriended. They weren’t home. So she came back. Still she didn’t push it.

Meanwhile, I retreated downstairs and sat on the couch, my mind running through all my excuses.

What you don’t know (and what my sister didn’t know either) is that I had just been reading The Secret Battle of Ideas about God  by Jeff Meyers (Great book, by the way!). And the chapter had been about how Jesus restores our hope even when we’re surrounded by the darkest of circumstances. This quote in particular had struck me,

We stop being fragile, said Taleb, by growing through instability, thriving through disorder, loving mistakes, and enjoying uncertainty…Resilient people spring back to their shape after distress. They don’t avoid risk; they embrace it. Resilient people push forward when they’re tempted to pull back. Jesus didn’t call his followers to avoid risk; he called them to be resilient. Among his last words before going to the cross was a prayer for his disciples: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) It’s not that resilient people live carelessly; it’s that they don’t let fear or regret bind them. ( The Secret Battle of Ideas about God  by Jeff Meyers page 178)

“How in the world am I supposed to do that?” I exclaimed into the air. Just a few minutes later is when my sister came to me. This was part of the answer to my question, but I wasn’t jumping on this simple opportunity. Instead, I was huddled on the couch not wanting to do something that I didn’t have any legitimate reasons not to do.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? I asked myself, a manager could tell us they don’t allow visitors like that, and then we’d leave. I’d probably never see that manager again. Or if I did, it would just be walking past each other at Walmart. What’s so scary about that?”

But in my mind I could envision myself standing in a bleak room with my sister, and having an anxiety attack (not that I normally have those).

But, you know what? God really is greater than our weaknesses.

As I sat on that comfy couch, I knew I had to make a decision. And even though it wasn’t the decision of a lifetime, I felt like it was something that mattered.

Today was day one. And today I was not going to let fear win.

I quickly changed into something a bit nicer than my causal sweatshirt, grabbed my purse, stomped up the steps, and told my sister, “I’ll take you, but we better leave soon before I change my mind.” I was sort of joking about the changing my mind part, but sort of not.

As we walked out the door, I told her, “I’ll be your Moses, but you’ve got to be my Aaron,” meaning that she needed to do the talking (Exodus 4:10-16).

We ended up going to an assisted living retirement home, because in my mind’s eye that was the place she had been wanting to visit. Silly me, she had actually wanted to go to the nursing home. But we both figured this place was as good as any.

Yes, I did feel nervousness as I sat and waited for the employee to talk to the nurse and see if this sort of thing was allowed. Apparently, people don’t normally visit assisted living homes without being with an organization. But in a matter of minutes we were being escorted down the hallways by a kind receptionist.

Then we were led by a gentleman to an elderly woman named Faye. Miss Faye had dementia and was convinced she was going home soon. I don’t know how many visitors she normally has, but she told us that seeing us today made today “a good day.” She is a Christian, and we got to pray with her and also read her Psalm 23.

My sister being more tenderhearted than I, ended up tearing up almost the entire time we visited with the elderly ladies. And do you know what happened?

I did the talking.

WHAT?!? If you would have told me this when I was wrestling with my insecurity huddled on the couch in my basement, I would have laughed.

Yep. I was striking up conversations, and even got to pray with another sweet soul there, who when we were going to leave asked us to pray with her again. She told us, “I didn’t have any girls. When I was pregnant with each of my children, I would pray, ‘God if it’s your will, can this be a girl?'” And then she shared how blessed she was by us coming today. Okay, so I almost teared up at that point.

When we left, the receptionist thanked us and asked us to come back often. She shared how much she’s been touched by these elderly people in just the short amount of time she’s worked there.

As we were driving home, guess who said, “What do you think about making it a habit of coming back here on Sundays?”

By this point in the story, I bet you know who.

And my sister agreed.

God didn’t force me do this today. The Holy Spirit was getting at my heart and prompting me to say yes, helping me to overcome my fear. I could have chosen to stay back, but I would have never known what I’d missed.

By the grace of God I did something that stretched me. It might not sound like something that took a lot of faith, but for each of us there are things that take us out of our comfort zone, and that can be harder than others would think.

What’s something that you’re scared to do, but you know it would be a good thing to do?

I hope this story encourages you to step out and just do it.

You never know what blessing is lying on the other side of stepping out of your comfort zone.

:Let’s do the right thing, even when it scares us.

It’s that kind of faith that moves mountains.

All for the glory of God.

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23 thoughts on “I Didn’t Want To. But I’m Glad I Did. And You Can Too.

  1. Joy! What a blessing! I go to nursing homes sometimes just to visit and talk with the people there! It is always a blessing, every time that I go! So awesome!

  2. Wow, this was so wonderful! I am so glad you were able to bring joy to those ladies, and that you will continue to! Yes, it can be scary to step out and do something, but more times than not, we will be very glad we did. :D Thanks for the wonderful post! :D

  3. Ouch! This one hit where it hurts! Thanks for sharing, Joy. I feel that panicked feeling so often, as well. Thanks for the encouragement to push through it and do the hard stuff

  4. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are great places to warm up to ministering to people. That is where I began preaching in 1994. I would not trade in that for anything. Now I continue to minister to many senior adults through hospice, although I’m a lot closer to being one than I was then.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Matthew. That is so wonderful how you started off in ministry among the elderly. God bless you for your service in His kingdom!

  5. Have you been back there again, Joy?
    My first jobs when I was 14-15 were in nursing homes. I really developed a deep love and respect for the older generation. (if there was decent money in it, I would probably still be in that line of work). I enjoy going to visit old friends; and I realize how few visitors so many of those people have; since so many people seem to have a phobia and visiting nursing homes.
    What a blessing that you could share of yourself. Play piano for them, sing with them; play games. Quality time means so much.
    I hope this becomes a regular routine for you both. :-)
    Tracy P

    1. Hi Miss Tracy! :)

      Life has been so crazy since then, that I haven’t been able to yet. :'( But, my sister and I are planning on going back to a nursing home soon. Thank you so much for sharing your own history of ministering to the older generation. That is beautiful!

      ~ Joy

  6. This so amazing, Joy!!! Thank you very much for sharing this so inspiring experience! Some years ago, I went with the music school to a place like that to play the violin for the elderly. I was so scared too… My hand were shaking so much! But I was also so glad when I saw how happy they were with our visit. May God use us as His instruments every day!

  7. Thank you Ms. Joy, I enjoyed this a lot.
    It reminds me of when we used to go and sing for the folks at a nursing home back in West Virginia. Another thing that we did was making cards for them, and drawing pictures. It was pretty scary at first, but after a while it was quite fun.

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