The news was like a punch in the gut. For a moment, I could not breathe.
How could everything I cherish—everything I stand for—be marginalized, questioned, demeaned, overlooked, and disregarded? Those old familiar pains one feels in high school returned: “I’m not good enough” and “My contributions mean nothing,“ or perhaps “I am a failure.”
Since we are using metaphors, I have another one. You know that sensation you get when you step into a hot shower on a frosty morning? The water cascades on your head and face and then runs down your back and shoulders. The steam fills the shower stall and blissfully you shut your eyes and absorb the warmth. The soap lathers just right and the shampoo suds glide through your fingers. Just as you are about to reach for the shower sponge, the water goes ice cold.
Was this really happening? When I gained my composure, I began to think rationally.
I once had a friend that never perpetuated these kinds of feelings. In fact, the opposite was true. His arsenal included respect, love, acceptance, and warmth. When I was around him, I felt like I was his best friend. I was important. My ideas and perspective were valued. And for that, I adored him. I am sure he made everybody feel that way. Where was he when I needed him?
Who of us has not felt isolated and alone at some point in our lives? We have all experienced those emotions at one time or another, and unfortunately many feel that way right now. When I was a young man, we moved once from our home in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we had lived in the same neighborhood for 23 years. The totally new community and lifestyle was a big change. It was not easy as young as I was. Though it has now become one of the beacons of my life, for a time as a young man in an unfamiliar place, I felt uncomfortable, out-of-place, and inferior, especially at school. Those that figuratively put their arms around me and befriended me and welcomed me into their lives still have a special place in my heart. When I was down and out, they were there to lift and inspire me. But I imagine most of them have no idea they played this role or have this significance in my life.
That is just what I need right now.
We all experience challenging times. During these occasions, we may feel embarrassed, inferior, or alone. But remember, the Lord gives us these opportunities to grow, and you are in really good company—really good company.
In Matthew 24:35-36, 40, we read the following:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Love these messages of hope.
Whatever you are feeling and however bad it may be, our hardships give us empathy for others and opportunities to show compassion. In so doing, we are strengthened, edified, and blessed.
Challenging times give us the opportunity to be a light on the hill and comfort, help, and serve others. Even when we feel like we don’t have anything to offer, we can make a difference when we show love, focus our attention on others, and perhaps just acknowledge them.
Maybe it is not as easy as it once was, but God sees our efforts and acknowledges them even when today due to COVID-19 we cannot deliver the service and help we really want to. He’ll provide a way.
Jesus Christ stands at the door and knocks, hoping we will let Him into our lives so he can bless us.
Let Him in.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.