Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rich in friends

  I was the kid who always got picked last. I was the kid no one ever wanted on their team and got treated like I was the booby prize. I was the kid whose lunch got taken and I was forced to play take away. I was the kid everyone picked on when the teacher left the room, I was the kid that got made fun of in choir,  I was the kid who lived in fear and grew up thinking no one liked me.

  That and other things caused me to feel God didn't like me or love me either. That kind of thinking is difficult to overcome, and is something I struggle with to this very day; though nothing like I used to.

  The older I get, the more I realize that there are people who truly do like me and consider my friend. I am starting to not be so surprised by that fact, and to just be thankful and try to be a good friend to others.

 This recent  hospital stay has helped bring that home even more. As soon as I passed out and collapsed onto the floor of the Emergency department at the feet of two nurses, or at least close to their feet; it started. I knew the nurses taking care of me. It was obvious I wasn't just another patient, and though their care was professional....it was also personal and they had extra concern because they like me and care about me.

   After my parents arrived, there was a pretty steady parade of coworkers and Emergency department personnel who were working on me or just stopping in to say hi and see how I was doing... security guards, my bosses, nurses, the head of the emergency department, nursing supervisors....... and it made me feel good to have these people tell my parents how much they like me, how good I am at my job, and how much they like working with me.

  My best friend texting me for updates, other friends texting and messaging me, more coworkers stopping off in my room I had been moved to, family coming to visit, my pastor making two trips to visit, some good friends driving to see me, friends and family, and church family on Facebook expressing concerns and promises to pray, a Facebook friend and fellow church member who is a college professor messaging me to tell me she and her students in two classes yesterday prayed for me, a Facebook friend giving me a $25 Amazon gift card to buy some things to read, other friends giving me a $10 Amazon gift card, my nephews each bringing me a balloon and hand made get well cards, the lady at the front desk threatening to throw me out of my window when my sister told her all that was going on with me....... you'd have to know her :)

  I have actually been thinking on this friends thing before I wound up in the hospital. The last few weeks, I have had such a sense of thankfulness for the people in my life I count as friends on some level or another. Yes, this hospital visit has magnified that feeling and realization, but it was already there,

   There's my family of course. My parents who would do anything for us kids.... and have. My siblings and their spouses..... and we all get along and have fun. And then the kids that make me the proudest and happiest uncle on the whole earth. I love those 3 boys and 3 girls, and they make me feel loved and special.

  My best friend who I text and talk to through each week, my friend Bob in Maine..... who though I have never met, has been a great encouragement, friend, and inspiration for several years. My aunts, uncles, and cousins..... who though I live further from now than when I was a kid, feel closer now than I did when I lived near them,.... especially thanks to social media. There's my Indiana friends who I don't see near often enough and that I love and miss.

 And my church family. Some are closer than others, and some are very close friends. There's Reuben and KC, my "brothers" who always talk and joke with me and message me out of the blue every once in a while, my pastor and his wife..... the best I have ever had, Becky H, Denise, Brad, my Sunday School teacher and his wife, Denny and Cindy, Rodney, Connie, my adopted nieces Lydia and Leanne and their family, Brant and Merilee, the whole Sanders family, my Sunday School class members, and so many others who acknowledge me, say hi, laugh at my attempts at humor, pray for me, hit me on the shoulder or pat my back.... you all mean so much,

   The Dyes... who I miss so much since they moved away. Mrs Dye, does your husband know what a gem you are? I hope you know under all that teasing, that I admire you and your Christian walk and have utmost confidence in you. You have a Christian maturity found in only really old people........ just kidding :)

   My brothers and sisters in Hope for Wholeness and the Huddle. I am thankful you guys are part of my life. I have met many of you in person, ate with you, prayed with you, been encouraged by you...... you all are family and I am glad I have you to walk this road I travel.

  The people I work with directly and indirectly. My fellow security officers........ I love you guys and enjoy joking and chatting with you. The coffee shop ladies...... you serve great food, love on me, laugh or groan at my jokes, and make my day brighter. Thelma, the 77 year old lady at the front desk who has adopted me and threatens almost daily to slap me for my teasing remarks - or throw me out of my hospital window; Kay, another front desk lady who encourages and inspires me by her Christian walk and our talks about God, church, the Bible, and etc.

  I'm not that kid on the playground anymore. I know I have people who like and love me and care about me. This past week helped to emphasize that, though I have been seeing it long before that. I have had friends drop me - on Facebook and in real life - but I have people who have been my friend for years and know the worst about me...... and still keep me around.

  I actually started working on this blog post while I was still a the hospital, and had to stop because I got so emotional. The thought hit me as I thought about all of  these people in my life who care about me and make my life brighter.....if they care so much, how much more does God love me? How much better of a friend is He? As I lay there with tears running down my face, I hoped that the nurse wouldn't come in for any reason.

  I hope and pray I can be the kind of friend that I should be to others. To pray for them, encourage them, brighten their day, let them know that I care.

 I was discharged from my room at noon on Saturday. My co-worker and friend James had come up to my room and helped me carry my belongings down to the car. When I reached the main lobby, my parents were waiting and talking to Thelma, the lady at the front desk - yes, the same lady who threatened to throw me out of my hospital room window.... she unplugged her headset and came around the front of my desk. She gave me a hug, and said "I love you - take care of yourself, I don't want to lose you!" I hugged her back, and told her I loved her too.

 Then my big burly co-worker and friend Rich gave me a hug and told me to get better. My mom, James, and I walked outside to wait for my dad to pull up. After I put everything in, I turned to thank James and he gave me a hug. As we drove away, I opened a get well  card that had been instigated by Thelma... with $60 inside and signed by 2 of my fellow security guards, Thelma, her boss, and the coffee shop ladies. And I rode home with a heart full of thankfulness to God for His help through those 3 days, and for the people He has placed in my life. I am truly rich...... rich in friends.

 And if I missed somebody, I apologize and am thankful for you too :)


  1. Your such a special person Mark. Reading this made me want to cry. Maybe that's why you have such a talent for putting a smile on people's face, even those on the other coast. I am so sorry people treated you bad. Very happy that God used those experiences to make you the man you are today.

  2. Mark you are an amazing inspiring person who I am so blessed to call you my friend I feel like we clicked instantly and I had to take mom to dr yesterday so we stopped in to chat with Thelma and I'm so use to seeing your smiling face I missed you so much you bring so much joy and love to all who are blessed to know you ���� God puts people into our lives for reasons and I'm so thankful I can call you my friend ����love you my friend ��������������������