God blessed the broken road


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Hardin

This is part two of a series about Ruth who was admitted to hospice with end stage chronic airway obstruction. Ruth and I met almost every Tuesday morning for almost a year and a half; and I fondly refer to those times as my “Tuesdays with Ruth”. Ruth reflected upon the tragic death of her forty year old son in an automobile accident. She suggested, “God knows what He’s doing. My son couldn’t have handled my death. He once told me, ‘We are all we have. All we have is each other.’”

Ruth also reflected on how she became an inpatient rehab nurse: “I was working as a diabetic educator with my coworker, Pat; but they really only needed one and Pat was an R.N. and I was an L.P.N. So I knew where that was going. So I met with Human Resources to see what my options were. They told me I could work night shifts in the E.R., but at my age I knew I wasn’t going there. They told me I could work in the business office but I knew that if I went there the hospital would end up getting audited, investigated. My third option was to work in the inpatient rehab unit. I didn’t know anything about it but I took it.”

Regina, Ruth’s manger, told me, “Ruth had tough love. Some of the patients really didn’t like her at first because she wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If a patient didn’t want to walk she would say, ‘Yep we are’. She wouldn’t let them manipulate her. But in the end most of them loved her for it.” Evidently Ruth found her niche or maybe her niche found her.

Ruth’s journey reminds me of the song, “Bless the Broken Road”, by Rascal Flats: “I set out on a narrow way many years ago, hoping I would find true love along the broken road. But I got lost a time or two, wiped my brow and kept pushin’ through. I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you. Every long lost dream led me to where you are. Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars…But you just smile and take my hand, you’ve been there you understand, it’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true…God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”

We “set out on a narrow way” but sometimes, like with Ruth, it’s the “broken road” that leads us straight to where we were meant or destined to be. In retrospect, how many of us are doing today what we planned or thought we’d be doing twenty years ago, or even six months ago?

These are a few of the things in life that I have discovered to be myths or mere illusions; a self-made man, an individual accomplishment, protection, personal ownership and control. Wise King Solomon wrote: “A man’s heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9); and the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

Therefore, seeing that it’s not in us to direct our steps, that control is an illusion, how should we live our lives; how should we approach each new day? As for me, I have concluded that it would be good for me to “wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31), “looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2); to live where I am, for “…if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.” (Ecclesiastes 11:3); to live in the moment, being fully present, redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:16); to be responsible but not preconceived; to do whatever I put my hand to with all my heart, soul mind and strength as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23), and to hold all things loosely realizing that “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away” (Job 1:21). And I never want to lose a sense of wonder. I would rather wake up each morning wondering who God is going to bring my way, what He has in store for me, what’s around the next bend. I prefer a wonder-full life over a manufactured one. And when life is perplexing and the future uncertain I hope I will remember the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Prince of Preachers” (1834 – 1892): “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace his hand, we must trust His heart.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at hardinl@somc.org or at 740-356-2525