My husband was gone to another country for the first time since we'd been in Central Asia, and I was trying to endure the longest two weeks of my life. I was constantly stressed and anxious. On a rare afternoon during this time, I relaxed enough to be out in the garden playing ball with my kids and actually having fun.
But my joy faded when my granny neighbour appeared from over the half wall that divides the properties.
I greeted her warmly, but my heart sank. I knew culture dictated that I was now expected to stop playing with my kids, invite her inside, and give her tea and as many goodies as I could find in my kitchen. This would bring me honour. Not inviting her in would bring me shame and possibly make her offended for months.
Even though my head knew all this, my heart wanted to stay in the garden with my kids. Instead of inviting her in, I pulled up a chair in the shade and invited her to sit. I then left her to carry on throwing a tennis ball to my daughter.
Granny sat for a while watching, and then she got up and asked my daughter for the tennis ball and she threw it for me!
I couldn't believe it. Here was Granny, who so often complains of an aching back from working too hard, smiling and playing ball in the garden with me. My kids sat on the grass and watched the spectacle in delight.
Those few minutes of playing ball with my elderly neighbour (before she tired and needed to go home and rest) were a gift from her. More than that, they were a gift from my Heavenly Father, who was giving me unexpected joy and inviting me to trust Him more through the trial.
"For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:7-8