First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on March 24, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/god-delights-in-you-through-all-your-troubles
Seagulls dotted the field by the highway as we drove by. On a sunny Saturday I went walking in a park by the river. I chatted with my friend about her work as a teacher. The trees were still bare, so we could see the river unobstructed. The air was cool but not too cold. I held a hot drink in hand and sipped it as we talked.
Andrea mentioned what she said to her student who felt the need to fit in.
“It’s okay to be different. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay, everyone learns in different ways, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you understand how you learn and what works for you and embrace it.”
What I felt from her sharing was that you do not need to fit in to be worthy. She also said, “We often tend to conform and be like everyone else. We forget to acknowledge our own beauty, strengths, and talents.”
Sometimes I feel unworthy because I have a bipolar disorder. I wonder what it would be like without a diagnosis of an invisible illness. Would I have compassion for others struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia?
Or would I have missed the opportunity to meet them in hospital wards and support groups? Their presence helping me to realize I’m not alone. I’m not strange. And that it’s okay to have differences.
“What I thought was my end was only Your beginning,” declares Sean Feucht in his song “You delight in me.”
I learned so much from the kindness of the other patients in the hospital this past September. Some brought me extra orange juice, gave me the best colouring pages, and kept me company while we coloured and talked.
It was not always a comfortable place to be locked in a ward for a time with strangers. Yet they were some of the kindest people.
Some cracked jokes to make me smile, and one taught me how to play a magic trick with cards.
A few raced along beside me on the stationary bikes getting in lots of exercise. Some picked out their favourite movies to share with me.
One held my hand and twirled me around the room as I danced ballet. Some played ping-pong with me and gave me great competition.
One made custom drawings for me to take home. One taught me about football as I watched along with him.
All of this made me feel delighted in. These patients were going through all kinds of trauma and trouble. And were being thoughtful, supportive, and loving.
The nurses and doctor were also very caring. Anything I needed I could ask them for. If they were busy, they didn’t seem frustrated when asked for a phone charger or a movie. They even made popcorn for us and tea.
Sometimes I was scared of the behaviours of some of the patients who were upset. Their tempers made me want to hide away and feel homesick. My parents were so good at coming to drop off items I needed.
Because of COVID, I couldn’t have any visitors, so I waved to them through the bars of the window on the fifth floor. I blew kisses to them as they did to me. My family is such a support to me. I am so blessed and feel their delight in me. Even when things get difficult.
I also had the privilege of speaking to three priests during my stay. A friend, a spiritual director, and a professional in psychology. My phone was a way to connect with the outside world. And, oh, how I needed to!
Thinking it over, I wouldn’t change my life with an illness. Though receiving healing and a cure would be amazing. And I do notice transformations in my life through prayer and the sacraments.
God delights in me. And God delights in you.
You are a beloved child of God. And it’s okay to be different. It’s a beautiful thing to be unique.
Whatever ails you can bring you closer to the heart of the Father. I continue to bring all my afflictions to God, and he showers me with affection. His love is there for me every day. No matter what I do, how I am feeling. It never changes.
His love is indescribable. I am especially reminded when I go to Mass and receive the Eucharist.
“I know I captured all your affection. That’s the end of the story. You’ve always been for me,” Feucht sings.
Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.