Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a woman who mentored me for 3 years, until she was diagnosed with alzheimer's. At that point, she was told that she had 3 more years before it would get bad. That didn't turn out to be the case. Within 2 months she was living in a nursing home in an alzheimer's unit.
I remember something she said to me shortly after she was there. She looked at me tearfully and expressed that she was concerned about what she would say to people when she got to the point where she didn't know what she was saying. She loved people deeply with the love of Christ. I reassured her that God knew her fear and that what was in her heart--love--would come out.
As I listened to the pastor speak at her funeral, I pondered the song on my heart.
What Wondrous Love Is This
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb,
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.
I only remembered the first two lines and felt I needed to take the music with me to the funeral. There was an opportunity to speak and so I did. I am glad I did. I sang the first two lines and the last verse. I realized as he spoke that this verse said what my friend wished for.
She was a lovely, dear woman who filled a hole in my heart.
There's another story I want to share. A friend of mine once told me a story that has stayed with me every since. A relative of hers who was bitter in life was bitter in her last months of life as she wasted away from sickness. My friend grieved for the pain and for the bitter words that were spewing out of the mouth of the person who was sick. She asked the hospice nurse if everyone is like this when they die. The nurse said no. She said that what is in the heart comes out at the end.
My dear, lovely friend... I spoke with a woman at the funeral who had been to see her just a few weeks ago. She said she was in such horrible pain and yet she didn't cry out or act in anger. Instead, she was still concerned about those helping her. She still loved people with all that she was able to. She loved them with the strength of Christ's love. The Lord knew her heart's desire.
When faced with a wrong done to us, we have two choices. To forgive and love, or to exact a price from another and from ourselves in the form of bitterness. My friend's life reminds me to choose God's ways and not my own.
I am blessed to have had this woman in my life.