I mentioned in my last blog how getting a surprise can mean a lot. Time to share that getting a surprise can also change a bit of your life. I had received a phone call from a total stranger who heard about my illness and wanted to talk. She wanted to hear how it had affected me, as her daughter had come down with Encephalitis, too. (Read my last blog for how this phone call came about.)
That was the very first conversation I had ever had with anyone who experienced the serious illness I had gone through: Encephalitis. Indeed, One priceless conversation. One piece of information she shared stood out.
“Marianne, you should check out this certain website,” she suggested. “It will get you contact with many others with your illness.”
My mouth dropped. “Really? Others who had what I had?”
I eagerly grabbed a pen and quickly scribbled down that website on the closest piece of paper I could find. After passing our thanks to each other for sharing our stories, I didn’t even blink before typing that website on my computer. I found it! Encephalitis Global. (encephalitisglobal.org)
I saw titles of different letters from different people. Titles like…
– My Hardest Encephalitis Problems
– My Family Doesn’t Understand
– Who Else Is Feeling Alone?
– Five Years Since I got Hit With Encephalitis
The list went on and on. After clicking the first one, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
This person knows exactly what it’s like! (I bet I even said that out loud.) Then I checked another person’s title. I can relate to his problems, too!
Time to fit in that saying “died and gone to heaven,” because I felt like I had. Slowly, my eyes were getting damp. I read more. Tears were accumulating.
Tears of joy, yet tears of sorrow. I guess those ten years of loneliness had piled up inside and it was time to pour them all out. Now sure, I did have my dear husband, children, plus family and friends, but my heart still ached inside a lot, so having found people who could understand caused me to let loose many tears.
Soon, however, tears of joy took over. People understand! I’m not alone!
“I understand how you feel,” I replied to at least ten different people. I can’t even begin to describe how great it felt sharing parts of my story. I felt even better when, only a few minutes later, someone replied back.
I’m talking to someone who knows what it’s like! They understand me, I understand them, and we can chat back and forth! That website became my new companion, and I checked it out a few times every day. It felt like God was telling me, “Marianne, I know what I’ve planned for you to bear can be tough, but I’m still with you, giving you this surprise.”
Now, years later, I’m still connected to that website and can’t even begin to explain what a treasure it’s been having gotten to know a few of those people, whom I now call dear friends.
Remember from my last blog I said how I was going to share that second fact I learned? I had even given you a clue—God has a purpose behind problems He’s put before you.
It’s time I share the second fact I learned from that call.
God wants us to pray and, when possible, comfort those in need.
II Corinthians 1:3b-4 says …God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
At the beginning, the website helped me immensely, talking with others who have gone through it. Well, with years behind me, I now use it as my opportunity to encourage others. When someone’s situation is similar to mine, I pass on a few words, making sure they know someone understands. I’ve even skyped with a few, watching some, as they talked, shed some tears, while giving them my ear and some advice. Each time an e-mail soon followed saying, “Thank you, Marianne. Talking with you really helped.” Needless to say, they’ve been some of the best e-mails I’ve ever read.
About five years ago, an opportunity arrived for me to put together an annual lunch gathering for those in the Northwest. Many of us look forward to it each year now, even if a few hours of driving is needed.
Question – Should you ask yourself if you can reach out to any who may be going through something you’ve experienced? Believe me, it feels great if you do. Just keep in mind what Christ says in Luke 6:31, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ I’d love it if you could pass me a note if you’ve used your rough road you’ve been on to help others.