Busy Hands, Grateful Hands

I’ve never been so grateful for work.

When the alerts and text messages and calls starting blowing up my phone a week ago, and the horrible news of the terrible bus accident came in, I felt sick. Unsure which of my friends’ children were on the bus, uncertain of the severity of the crash, I felt dizzy and trapped in slow motion while the world turned faster. And I had no idea of what to do. There was an invisible weight upon me.

Certain something terrible was happening, hurting for those that it was happening to, I had no idea how to help. I fell to my knees and lifted my cries up to the only Help I knew. On bended knee I prayed for protection and peace and understanding. I prayed for safe travels for the families that would be driving down to collect their children, mothers, husbands. I prayed that the early reports of a fatality were wrong- maybe a station wanting to report first did so before they had all of the information.

My life kept going on that day. Kids still had games and practices. My family still needed fed. But I was walking around numb and in a daze. My mind wasn’t on the immediate. My mind was on the wreck and those families.

The only thing I was certain of was the absolute feeling of helplessness I had.  I felt this huge sense of urgency. Something needed done; people were hurting; there where hearts to mend. Surely there was something I could do. But there wasn’t.

I was not sure why, but I felt like I needed to go to the church. Maybe gathering there to pray, maybe being in His house, maybe then the feeling of helplessness would go away?  Maybe I could be useful? Maybe hugging someone would make my idol hands feel better along the way?

I prayed, I hugged, I cried, but the helplessness stayed heavy on my heart. “Lord, give me work. Help me to have something to do.”  Then I overheard someone telling a friend, “we are serving food.”  I didn’t care how that sentence ended, I just clung to “serve.”

I asked the woman that had spoken to please put me to work. I needed my hands to be busy, to be as busy as my mind. Rocked by my shock and grief, I happily cut sandwiches, iced cups and filled drinks. Like a balm on an open wound, being busy in service lifted some of the weight of the helplessness. Offering a smile and a cool drink to those hurting, many far more than me, was like therapy.

While I was there, I felt filled with the strength of the Lord. I could courageously offer a smile, bravely speak words of comfort. I have never been so grateful for work. My hands were busy, and it lifted the burden on my heart. In the midst of helplessness, I had a job and a purpose.

I can’t tell you the extent to which I cherished that opportunity or express how grateful I was.  To serve in chaos, to make some small order out of so much tragedy, it gave me relief.

It also made me realize the importance of making room for and allowing other people to serve. How many times, when someone has been hurting for me or my family, has she offered to help, and I have declined?  “No thank you, we’re fine.” When all she really wanted was a chance to have busy hands, to lift the burden on her heart. I know how grateful I was to have work during a time when I was witnessing so much grief. Who am I to take that from someone else?  Next time I hope I’ll be quicker to let someone else serve me, being reminded that they want to be part of God’s purpose.

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