58: My Greatest Help

58: My Greatest Help

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

My Greatest Help

When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively.

~Norman Vincent Peale

I stood in the middle of my living room looking up toward the heavens. “God, I need a miracle and I need one now.”

At that exact moment, the phone rang. “This is Beth. I’m a registered nurse with your health insurance company. I coach our members who have chronic back pain.”

Her voice was like a soothing balm. I knew immediately she was the answer to my prayer.

It had been three years since my back surgery, since my life had changed so drastically. Once a very active person, I didn’t know how to live in this broken body. Nobody had been able to help me. All the doctors and physical therapists left me feeling hopeless. I had gone to many medical professionals and they had no answers for me.

Then Beth came into my life. We clicked instantly. She told me she would be calling me once a week and we’d chat for thirty minutes. I really needed her encouragement in my life because I couldn’t see anything positive. It was one of my lowest points ever.

After my surgery, I had flare-ups when I pushed myself too hard. They would put me in bed for months. It didn’t take much. If I walked a little too long, or did too much housework, or sat in the car for an extended period of time, I developed crippling pain.

Beth taught me how to listen to my body. She asked me what my pain level was on a scale of one to ten. If it was over three, I had done too much and I needed to stop and rest. Resting wasn’t something I was used to doing. I learned not only how to pace myself physically, but to change the way I thought about things.

I had felt useless because I wasn’t the woman I used to be, but Beth taught me how to be thankful for the things I could do and to celebrate myself. That’s something I had never done in a healthy body, so this was healing for me on a deep level.

Every week she had a different lesson for me to work on. One week I wrote down all of my positive attributes. Another, all the nice things and compliments anyone had ever said to me. I also wrote all the things I liked about myself. Beth said, “Meditate on these things.” What an eye opening experience for me!

I’d always thought if I couldn’t be everything to everybody, I was a failure. But I learned from our sessions about my inherent strength and potential.

When I was invited to my godson’s wedding, I didn’t know how I would be able to sit through the whole ceremony. I was worried about letting his family down when Beth said, “Don’t you think they’ll be happy that you were able to attend? It doesn’t matter how long you can stay.” Her voice was so friendly and cheerful that whenever she corrected my thinking, it put me at ease. She had a way of putting everything in perspective for me.

I thought she must have such a contented life; she always sounded so happy. I could hear her smile through the phone. Her joy became my strength for those thirty minutes.

As time went by, I got to know her better. She shared that her husband and only son were both disabled. I was shocked. She lived with challenges most people will never experience. Her burdens were far more difficult than mine, yet she gave pure joyfulness to all her patients.

After several weeks of talking on the phone, I asked her if she would like to meet me for lunch. I waited outside the café and when I noticed someone walking down the street with a bounce in her step and a smile on her face, I knew it had to be Beth. We hugged each other warmly and had a wonderful time together.

We met for lunch periodically for several years. One day, I asked, “How are you always so happy and giving considering the hardships and personal challenges you face in your own life?”

She said, “I love my job and put all my trust in God.”

Then I told her that, by coincidence, I had been talking to God right before she called me that first time. I said, “You must have a direct line to him to have answered my call so quickly. You helped manage my pain and my life. I had just prayed for a miracle, and you delivered.”

~Marijo Herndon

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