I have been fortunate to be introduced to Mr. Ken Jones. He has become a dear friend, confidant, and coach. He has a gift. He has a gift for putting thoughts, ideas, musings, and observations into words that speak to the heart. He has many other gifts as well, gifts that have been used well over his lifetime. I wanted to introduce you to him through this piece that spoke to me about “The Uninvited Guest.”
I happened upon this essay/story while reading one of his books entitled “God Happened to be in the Neighborhood.” When I read this particular piece, I was deeply moved. I instantly connected with it as a peripheral nerve surgeon. It gave me a better perspective on PAIN and how it might affect the patient and their families.
I thought a few people out there may benefit by spending the time to read this short piece. Perhaps there is something that will might comfort, challenge, or encourage you. Perhaps you might even say, “I know what he means, I have been there.”
As a surgeon, my goal has always been to try to help every patient that walks through our door. It took me longer than some might expect to realize that I am NOT always able to do that. I am not sure why it took so long, maybe it is BECAUSE I am a surgeon.
I offer this essay hoping it will help some of those who cross our path.
Eric H Williams MD
P.S. Permission was granted by the author to reproduce his work. You can learn more about Ken and his weekly radio show by visiting his website.
THE UNINVITED GUEST
From the book " God Happened to be in the Neighborhood." By Ken Jones
I’ve always loved company. I grew up in a home where the front door was seldom locked, and a constant stream of friends and relatives enriched our lives with their warmth and conversation. I learned the art of hospitality by watching my parents welcome guests into our home — guests who had come with no other motive or agenda in mind but to see us and talk. When it was time to go home, the company always seemed to know it. As the conversations
died down, one of the guests would say, “Well, it’s time to go. We don’t want to wear out our welcome.” My parents would respond to such statements with a predictable, “Don’t rush off,” or, “What’s your hurry,” but everyone seemed to know the rules for a visit: Before it becomes awkward, thank your hosts for their hospitality and then leave.
When my wife and I were first married, we continued the practice of opening our home to family and friends. Friendships, cultivated in the setting of our living room have enriched our lives, our family, and our ministry.
In the summer of 1983, however, an uninvited guest came to our door. He did not knock. He swaggered into our home unannounced and has been taking advantage of our hospitality ever since. He dominates many of our conversations. He chooses his own seat at our dining table. He has his hand in virtually every aspect of our lives and insists that we plan our everyday routines and even our vacations around him. Frequently, when I embrace my wife, or even look into her beautiful green eyes, he is there. Even our marriage bed is not a stranger to him, and he seems to take particular delight in spoiling our attempts at intimacy. He sits with us in church. He goes with us on long walks. He was not invited. He was not expected. His name is Pain. He has become an uninvited guest at our house. And he doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.
For most people, pain is a relative word. When a headache interrupts our usually painless life, most of us hurry to the medicine cabinet and grab a couple of aspirins. Within minutes, our acute pain has subsided, we feel better, and life goes on. However, for millions of others, chronic pain is truly a relative word, like a long-lost cousin who drops in uninvited and unwelcome and doesn’t know when to leave. That’s the way it is our house.
I first noticed him when he would drop by for a casual visit, affecting and infecting my wife with his own brand of domination. She would slow down and wait for him to leave before she could resume her household chores and other wifely, motherly, teacherly duties. She usually announced his presence with variations on a theme: “My legs are really hurting me today.”
But in the early days it was rare for us to postpone any of our activities because Pain had dropped by for a visit. In fact, I rarely paid any attention to whether he was visiting or not. He didn’t talk to me. Only to my wife.
It became increasingly apparent, however, that he was taking advantage of our hospitality. This uninvited guest
For days afterward, I sat in that hospital room and held her hand. I stroked her face and told her I loved her. But she couldn’t hear me—Pain was talking to her. The corridor lights flashed at 9:00 P.M. signalling the end of visiting hours. Nurses would come and tell me—the husband—I had to leave. But Pain stayed with Randee all night.
Ten days after her surgery, we heard the good news from the doctor, “You can go home today.” I packed her things, the nurse wheeled her down the hall, and the four of us got on the elevator— Randee and me, the nurse. . . and Pain. I brought the car to the front door of the hospital. Three of us got in and rode off together. The nurse stayed at the hospital.
And so it was that Pain came to take up permanent residency in our house. It may be that he lives at your house too.
I don’t know what you think about him, that robber, that intruder, that violator who has come through your door and won’t let you rest. The cause of his visit may be a herniated disk or a birth defect. It may be a car accident or an emotional breakdown. It may be alcohol or drug induced pain. But it is pain.
I don’t know how you feel about your particular, personal pain. But I am confident that when chronic pain comes to call, he brings baggage— feelings of isolation, fear, and doubt.
I don’t know what you think of Him, the Carpenter, the Storyteller, the Teacher who spits on the ground and makes mud, then smears it on darkened eyes and they see.
I don’t know how you feel about the Doctor, the Physician, heaven’s Healer who shouts into deaf ears, “Be opened!’ and they are.
But I will tell you how this husband and pastor feels—what I’ve learned about pain:
- Pain came into my life because God opened the door. God didn’t cause the pain, but I am convinced He allowed it. Why? I have no idea.
- Life and Pain are not the same, Both are difficult, but they are not the same.
- By seeing Pain as a person, I distinguish the one I love from the one I hate. My wife and Pain are not the same. The mother of my three Sons and Pain are not the same. One is the joy of my life—the other wants to rob me of joy.
- Some days are better than others.
- Some days are worse than others.
- Every day is unlike any other, and I can choose to be victim or victor — bitter or better.
- It helps when I pray for my wife.
- It helps when she prays for me.
- We are learning together about not dwelling on him; he pummels the flesh, but we choose to affirm the spirit and the worth of each other.
- Pain will not stay forever. He will be evicted one day by the Guest of honor who sits at the head of our table and our lives. He who does all things well will perform it. It may not be today… but someday.
“Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe eveiy tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning