Serving love that heals

“I slept and dreamt life was joy, I awoke and saw life was service, I acted, and behold, service was joy.”
~Rabindranath Tagore


We limp into church.

It’s been a rough weekend for many reasons.

My oldest girl is one reason.

She’s out of sorts, non-compliant, hard to control, destroying everything in her path like a bull in a china shop, and pinging off the walls since 12:30 am.

I’m longing for heaven not because I want to see Jesus but just because I’d like to escape life.  


A young woman, B, sits in the front of the church, as she does every Sunday, with her elderly parents. B has some developmental delays and a number of health issues, including a seizure disorder. She worships in the sanctuary with all her heart.

In the middle of the sermon B suddenly makes a loud, hacking noise. The preaching stops abruptly; it’s eerily quiet. All eyes settle on B as she proceeds to vomit in the front row. For a moment all that can be heard are the helpless sounds of retching. The sound of her suffering fills the room.

Instantly Brandon is on his feet, as are a few others. Someone retrieves B’s walker and gently, lovingly helps her out of the sanctuary. With each slow step she takes, she looks up, and people pray for her. Piano music is playing softly now. Others quickly come in with towels and, without a word, clean up the mess; one on her knees wipes the floor.

Tears burn the back of my eyes.

Because when you have a child with special needs, every child with special needs is your child.

There are moments in life when you know that you are witness to something holy, something bigger than yourself and bigger than the moment. When words don’t suffice, and all you know is that God has something to say.

I live in such a moment as I watch these people serve B, hold her up, clean her up, love her.

I once heard it said and now know it’s true: Christ is present when the weak are loved and served.

As lovely Rhema sits beside me in the pew, humming away, seemingly oblivious to what is happening around her, I drop my head and hear the message:

Just like this. Just like this, I have loved you.

You, weak and needy and hurting and helpless. I, your God, kneel down and wipe away your horrible mess. I help you up and walk with you, every painful, limping step. I uphold you in my hand. Lift your head. Do you see? Do you see how I love you? I love you with an everlasting love.

Now, I have blessed you and entrusted you with a very precious, very special one. And you get to spend your life pouring yourself out for her. It’s not easy or glamorous or even acknowledged, but when you serve her – when you get up with her in the middle of the night, when you clean her poop, when you drive her to speech therapy every Saturday, when you go to great lengths to keep her safe and help her grow – you serve me! So do it in gladness and patience, and I will be your help.

I hug Rhema, my gift, close to me.

My heart gives in to joy.

27 thoughts on “Serving love that heals

  1. jeneil, i say it time and again (and like now, i say it through streaming tears) – you are a gift. you shine a light on the path to grace and for that, and so many other things, i love you with all my heart.

  2. Jeneil, your words are both moving and comforting to me today.

    This, in particular, touched my heart: “Because when you have a child with special needs, every child with special needs is your child.”

    Thank you for your beautiful words and spirit.

  3. Oh Jeneil, I can only echo what the others said. This was truly beautiful. Like Beth, that particular group of words resonated with me. I hope you don’t mind if I share. Never were truer words spoken. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Jeneil, what you are able to put into words is what so many of us struggle to recognize… His presence surrounding us and keeping us as we travel along this journey, stewards of His MOST precious children… Sure, those of us with faith – faith that sustains us through those moments of exhaustion – are many… but few can share the complete essence of its MEANING like you do…

    Thank you.

  5. Thank you for the reminder, and confirmation of what God has been showing me this week. I just wrote about the same concept on my blog yesterday…about how God is showing me that by loving my son, my special needs child, I am serving Him. That I should not feel badly that I can’t go to a foreign land, because He has called me to this role….and equips me with the patience, love, and strength I need to get through the day, to keep riding the rollercoaster, to find the joy

  6. So very beautiful Jeneil. I am constantly moved to tears when I read your writing, and always reminded of what is most important. Love.

  7. A wise and thoughtful person once told me when my kids were small that God doesn’t give us more than we can manage. Thank you for sharing in such a beautful way.

  8. “I’m longing for heaven not because I want to see Jesus but just because I’d like to escape life.”

    Jeneil – It breaks my heart to read that sentence. I can’t imagine the pain and struggle you go through every day, every single day. But every time I read one of your posts, I see Jesus. I see him in your love for and dedication to Rhema. I see him in the struggles, the victories, the tears, the smiles, and yes, I even see him in the poop.

    Thank you for your beautiful writing, but more importantly, thank you for your beautiful life of service. You serve as a great example of how life should be lived.

  9. “when you go to great lengths to keep her/him safe and help her/him grow – you serve me! So do it in gladness and patience, and I will be your help.”

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder of what special gifts our children are and how blessed we are to have them in our lives.

  10. “We limp into church.”

    So easy to pull the covers up over our heads after weeks that leave us limping. But you went. And you were there to receive that special blessing and see so clearly how it speaks into your life. You have a gift for that. For finding God and life lessons in daily events and circumstances.

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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