As I write this, it’s springtime and I’m thinking about new beginnings. A long time ago, I experienced a new beginning myself.
It was over forty years ago that I was on the “outs” with most of my friends and everyone in my family because, at the time, I was making a lot of bad decisions in my life. Please realize here, that although I just referred to “bad decisions,” I really wasn’t making decisions at all. Instead, I was just going with the flow of some bad influences and forgetting that I am a child of God.
I know without a doubt that I was in a mess because I had succumbed to evil. My family, however, preferring to think the best of me, thought I had gone crazy. When the family doctor agreed with them, I was placed—quite unwillingly—in a state mental institution.
I had all my faculties on the day I was placed in the newcomer’s ward but an hour later, when a psychologist, took me to a smaller room to evaluate me, I totally lost it. According to reports I heard later, I kept saying “The people, the people,” over and over. I remember saying it only once.
The shock I faced was indeed the people. That newcomers’ ward was actually a first level point of entry from which no one ever emerged unless their status improved. There was every type of mental illness present—as well as mental retardation on several levels. There were alcoholics and drug addicts. There was every age present from teenager to very elderly. Add that to the stark bare wood floor, simple benches for seating and peeling paint and I was simply overwhelmed.
I stayed in that place for six weeks and was never moved until I was released. It was what I did daily for those six weeks that changed my life. Mostly I prayed.
Not only did I pray for my life to be better, I recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm over and over when other words wouldn’t come.
Because I was not really “bonkers,” I was able to see the needs of the people in the ward. When I wasn’t praying, I did what I could to help the others, including one poor retarded old soul who had soiled herself and needed a bath. With the permission of the staff, I took her in the bathing room and washed her, then dressed her in a clean shift. Her mental stage was probably that of an average two-year old. She could walk and talk and eat and that was about it; but that day, she went from patient to patient, stopping and pointing to her clean dress and gabbling with a smile on her badly distorted face. All the patients told her how pretty she was.
Those six weeks were a sad, hard time in my life but God gives blessings in all that takes place. I can now truthfully say that I prayed for six weeks and my prayers have been answered ever since. I have had a wonderful, happy and constantly improving life and no longer willingly succumb to sin. I truly experienced a new beginning. Sometimes I think that everyone who is addicted to sinful activity should be forced to take a prayer sabbatical. There was nothing done to help me at that hospital. It was God who healed me.
Name Withheld by Request
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