Love Token

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Thank God for His faithfulness in granting me a very good rest last night. I was very very tired and went to bed before 9pm! I am up early this morning, and very thankful to feel refreshed to serve God again for this day that He has given me.

I pray that today the Lord will help me to remember to pace myself moderately, and I will remember to take breaks and rest in Him, and seek Him in prayers too.

I thank God for His encouragement through His Words in my devotion this morning. I am reminded that I must put God first in all that I do and say daily, and strive to honour Him and do good to others. Sometimes I get too task-oriented, especially when I am manic, as I will be full of energy and ideas during the day time. Sometimes I forget to stop and pray before my tasks. And at times, I become too much of a Martha and forget to be a Mary! I tend to do too many things and forget to spend more time with our Lord in prayer and in His Words. Thank God that He does slows me down and I am still learning to recognize early symptoms of over-straining. I also need much discipline to take breaks and rest! It's hard when my brain is full of ideas, I get very excited and there seemed to be 101 things I think I should do :) Oops, there I go again :)

This morning, I was very encouraged by a short story I reread. Since young, I loved to read. I have a small collections of short stories and quotable quotes which I enjoyed very much.

This morning, I reread "Love Token" and I would like to share with you. It touches my heart and reminded me afresh of what really matters in this life in the various relationships in our life. Hope you will be encouraged too :)

Love Token

From an old woman, a young nurse learns a valuable lesson of life.

Until I met Mrs. Bench, nursing wasn't quite what I had expected. An active imagination had set visions of Florence Nightingale dancing in my head. Instead, I got the three Bs: bathing, bed making and bedpans. As student nurses, we ventured out to practice our skills on patients. That's how I met Mrs. Bench - my first patient. That morning, I bustled in with my equipment and said cheerily, "Good morning, Mrs. Bench. I'm your nurse today."

Mrs. Bench was a tiny, ancient lady with mounds of blue-white hair bunched in a net on top of her head. The rest of her body was the shade of a ripe pumpkin. "What do you want?" Her tone of voice implied I was not to get it.

"I'm here to give you a bath, and make your bed."

"Well, just march yourself right out of here. I don't intend to have a bath today."

Squaring my shoulders, I looked her right in the eye. "Mrs. Bench, my job is to give you a bath. Now, let's get started." To my alarm, big tears formed in her eyes, and trickled into the furrows of her cheeks.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"What's wrong? I'm dying, that's what's wrong. And nobody cares, just as long as I'm clean."

"Did your doctor tell you you're going to die?"

She shook her head. "No, he keeps talking as if I'll be going home, but I'm not fooled."

"Now, now," I said briskly, "have a little faith in your doctor." I ignored her protests and bulldozed ahead into the bath.

The next day, Mrs. Bench anticipated my coming and had her ammunition ready. "Before you do anything," she said, "define 'nursing'."

I eyed her doubtfully. "Well, nursing is hard to define," I hedged. "It has to do with taking care of sick people."

At that Mrs. Bench whisked back the bedspread to reveal a dictionary. "Just as I suspected," she said triumphantly, "you don't even know that you're supposed to do." She flipped the book to a page she had marked and read slowly: " 'To nurse: to tend the sick or aged: to take care of, nourish, foster, develop or cherish.' " She closed the book with a bang. "I'm ready to be nursed. Today, I've a mind to be cherished."

"Good heaven, Mrs. Bench," I said, "what are you talking about?"

Grinning broadly, she patted a chair next to the bed. "Just sit down. Cherishing's easy to learn. You start by listening."

Listen I did. That day and the days to come, she told me her life's story, taking great pains to spell out the lessons life had taught her. Finally, she told me about Mr. Bench. "He was a tall, raw-honed farmer with too short trousers and too long hairs. When he came courting, he tracked mud into the parlor. Of course, I thought I was meant for finer things, but I married him anyway."

"For our first anniversary, I wanted a love token. They were made of etching flowers and entwined initials. They were hung on a fine silver chain, and presented on a special occasion." She smiled and fingered the silver chain she always wore. "The anniversary day came, and Ben up and hitched the wagon to drive into town. In a fever of anticipation, I waited on a slope, looking for the dust in the distance that would mark his coming."

Her eyes clouded. "He never came. Riders found the wagon the next morning. They came out with the news, and this." Reverently, she drew it out. It was faded now from rubbing against her skin, but one side was wreathed with tiny hearts and flowers. The reverse said simply, "Ben and Alma. Love eternal."

"But it's a penny," I said. "Didn't you say they were silver or gold?"

Replacing her jewel, she nodded. Tears rimmed her eyes. "It's sad to admit, but if he'd come home that day, I'd have seen only the penny. As it was, I saw only the love."

I never saw Mrs. Bench again. She died that night. But she left me a precious legacy that has helped make me a better nurse - and a better person.

A few blinks to dislodge the tears, and she faced me with a clear, piercing gaze. "I hope you listened well, young lady. That's the trouble you're having with being a nurse. You only see the penny. You're blind to the love. Remember, don't be fooled by the penny. Look for the love."

I first read this touching account in 1984 and I have typed it out and kept it in my collection. Even now, 24 years later, as I re-typed this touching story to share with you, it still touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes while I was typing. I am reminded afresh of how it will be good for me to learn to appreciate the love of the people around me and not just at what they give to me or do for me. I am also learning to appreciate the love of God and not just His blessings and gifts.

I am learning to cherish my time with family and friends and not just do things for them or make gifts for them. One of the important lessons I learned through my counsellor, Sarah, early last year, was that a meaningful life is found not only in doing meaningful things but also in having meaningful relationships with God and with others. This is a lesson I am still learning to apply in my life, by God's grace, and I am thankful that it is changing my life in many wonderful ways and helping me in my relationships with people around me.

I sometimes think I love too much at times and I get hurt too much because of it. But I am someone who feels deeply and have not learned how to restrain myself. I love my family and friends and maybe at times I tried too hard to please them or make them happy, whether knowingly or unknowingly. But sometimes it also backfired when I am more concerned about doing things for them rather than spending time with them, and loving them through being with them. Giving them gifts and doing things are ways of showing love, but sometimes spending time with them may show them greater love and they may cherish it more. I may be doing things for people, but I forget to spend quality time with them, which is more important to them and matter more to them. I pray God helps me to improve in this aspect.

It is the same in my walk with God and my serving God. I need this reminder too. Sometimes I am too preoccupied with many things I want to do for God in serving Him and I forget to spend more time in prayers and reading of God's Words. God delights in our communion with Him in prayers and reading of His Words. To be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with God. It is not just going to church and serving in as many capacities as possible. These are important and God do delights in our labours of love. But God delights even more when we love Him enough to spend more time with Him in prayers and reading the Bible. It is only by spending time with God that we can know more of His love for us and His goodness to us. It is also the way we learn how best to walk with Him and serve Him, and do good to others.

I need to still my heart and listen to God, before I busy myself with the day's tasks : ) And to remember to spend quality time with God and others around me.

Hope you will also look for love, and not just penny, in your relationships and work, or whatever you do :)



I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

13 Kind thoughts:

Mariposa said...

The story made me cry...so nice! And how true how we sometimes get to be too preoccupied with the penny rather than love.

I pray everyday for God to allow me to live each day as if it is my last...and with that said, I am making spending time with family my priorities...after all, they're my strength and inspiration to live each day...next to God.

Dream Writer said...

Taking time out to focus on the positive including God is a great thing.

I know what you mean about loving too much and caring too much. I was hurt more times than I can count because of my kind personality.

I restrain now. Let me tell you...I guess it is my age...as I got older, I am more able to say NO and able to walk away without guilt.

But it is hard at first, and sometimes I catch myself giving in and doing something. It is in my nature I guess. :)

my life with bipolar disorder said...

I am glad, Mari, to know that you are able to put God and your family as priority. Truly they are our inspiration daily and our motivation too! Thank God for them. Take care.

Dream, it is really not easy to say NO without feeling guilty :) I am glad you are learning to do so. I am still having difficulty with that but learning slowly to realize that I have many limitations and can only give to certain extent. You are a wonderful friend because of your kind nature, and must have been a tremendous blessings to others :)

Paula Joy said...

What a beautiful story. It really is the love that matters most, isn't it?! Sure makes a person look at everything and everyone differenly. Thanks for sharing that eye-opening story - a great reminder of why we are on earth - to reflect the love of God.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nancie,

I'm glad you slept well. Sleep is probably the most important thing that prevents mania from getting out of control. Having been very manic on two occasions in my life, I've thought a lot about those episodes. Both times I was working too hard and thinking too hard, with too many "great" ideas coming into my mind. The first time, I could be excused because I had never experienced mania before, and did not appreciate what was going on. The second time, I kind of knew I was getting "high" again, but I didn't take it seriously enough, and I was actually "fanning the flames", i.e. thinking that being high was a good thing that I could control to my advantage. With both episodes, I started sleeping less and less each night, yet felt full of energy during the day. Lack of sleep is a very clear, objective sign that something is wrong. Here are some things I do to make sure I sleep well each night:

- go to bed at about the same time each night, and get up at about the same time each morning
- completely avoid caffeine (decaf tea is my drink)
- try to sleep mainly when it is dark out, and avoid sunlight or phone calls from disturbing you
- if you are thinking about exciting or stressful things for too long before sleeping, or when you wake up in the middle of the night, remind yourself that sleep has top priority. Avoiding mania is "Job #1". Tell yourself to think about those things during the day, and if you are afraid you'll forget something, write it down, and go back to bed. If you can't stop thinking, give yourself a minute to summarize things, then officially declare to yourself "I am not going to think about that anymore." Then try stop any sentences or even words on any topic from forming in your mind, and cut off any sentences in mid-sentence, or finish them *really slowly*, one syllable at a time, so you'll get bored. If that doesn't work, try counting down from 100 to 1, over and over until you drift off.

Also, when getting "high", try to avoid talking a lot to people. I find talking to people gets me higher and I start replaying the conversations in my mind, or imagining future conversations.
Maybe do some boring chores instead , or sit quietly and read a book on a different topic than what you are excited about, and let the author control your thoughts.
-- Rob

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Yes, Paula, this story really motivates me to focus on the love rather than the penny :) Take care.

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Wow, Rob, you seemed to have written out some of my experiences! Working too hard, thinking too hard and having a lot of "great" ideas are exactly what I have been going through recently :)

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions on how to cope. I am still learning. It takes a lot of discipline for me to shut down my computer, stop whatever project I am doing and just go to sleep! Thanks, for the reminder to take it seriously and to really slow down.

I am glad you have learned to cope. I have so much to learn from you. Do drop by often and share your experiences and suggestions with me and my readers. Thanks again and take care.

marja said...

Hi Nancie, This was such a beautiful post - not just the story about the penny - but also what you had to say.

Interesting thing about spending time with God is that He makes you want to do things for Him. The love comes first and out of that love comes the work.

And yes, dear girl, you do need to try slowing down. I'm so glad you had a good rest last night.

And also: Why don't you print out all your posts and save them in a binder? You may not always have this blog. I know you don't think it's time for you to write a book, but I think you may be working on one without knowing.

Take good care of yourself, okay?

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Hi Marja, thank you for your encouragements! How true that when we spend time with God He makes us want to do things for Him. It's the love comes first.

And thank you so much for reminding me to print out the posts and save them somewhere. I almost forgot that I may not always have this blog. Oh, how good if these materials can become a book one day :)

Thank you for praying for me. Thank God for His love and faithfulness in keeping me. I am also remembering you in my prayers. You take care too, okay?

lisa marie said...

Those are beautiful flowers! It must have been a grand exhibit. :)

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Yes, Lisa. It was a very special Flower Exhibition at Sentosa Island for the Chinese New Year celebration in Singapore just for 10 days. It was the first time I saw so many lovely flowers. How beautiful is God's creations!

Jenalexa said...

You sound a lot like me talking there at the beginning. Finding a way to get a restful sleep and then trying to keep track of slowing down. Lately I find myself very sped up during the day. If it weren't for sleep meds, i'd never sleep and just be manic all the time! I also talk a lot when i'm manicky and I have lots of ideas as well. That's one of the reasons this place is good for us, we can get it out in a safe place. Good for you for turning to God to meet your needs. Keep it up, girl. you're on the right track!

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Thanks, Jena. It is really God's love and goodness to us in enabling us to discover one another through blogging and able to pray and share with one another. I am so blessed to know you and many others. Thanks for dropping by, reading and commenting. You take care too and pace yourself moderately :)

 

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