This I Believe

Leslie - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on November 23, 2007

I Believe in Faithfulness

Years ago, while working as a student chaplain at a center for physical rehabilitation, I met a woman who was disabled from spinal cancer. I visited her daily, listened to her concerns, and uttered a brief prayer. It seemed to me I had so little to offer amid the vastness of her disease and suffering. The day arrived when she was to be discharged. At the last moment, it occurred to me that I should visit her and say good-bye—not that I imagined it mattered. Surely, she had others—nurses, physical therapists, aides who were more important. Nonetheless, I searched for her. She was not in her room on the third floor. Neither was she in physical therapy two stories down. As I approached the stairs to return to her floor, I caught sight of her being wheeled out the front door on a stretcher. I ran to catch up with her. As she saw me approach, she raised her hands in the air and said, “I knew you’d come. I knew you’d come.”

My heart sank as I realized how close I’d come to letting her down. Taking her hands in mine, I leaned down and kissed her cheek. The stretcher rolled to a stop, allowing me to say a brief prayer. Tears filled her eyes as she whispered, “Thank you.”

How selfish I’d been to assume my daily presence meant nothing to the patients I’d visited. By dismissing myself, I’d been faithless to those in need. Belatedly, I realized I should take myself and the gifts I offered seriously. Otherwise, hurting folk would reach for a hand and find none reaching back.

Sometimes faith is measured, not in warm and fuzzy feelings of confidence, but in metered acts of faithfulness.

I believe in faithfulness.