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Welcome to Barb's Corner: A Blog About Caring

Thursday
Jul222010

Lost and Found: God is the Retriever

When was the last time you looked through a ‘lost and found?’  Interesting  things there, aren’t there?  We have a lost and found closet at our church.  My friend Sheila, who is the staff person in charge of that area, tells me that we have had some really strange things accumulate over the years .…a guest speaker’s expensive suit was in that closet and somehow inadvertently got sent to the Denver Rescue Mission men’s suit closet, also to be found were - a cowboy hat, boy’s underwear, women’s underwear, garden tools, to name a few.  If the owner could spot their item, and retrieve it, then it would be ‘found’ – right?

Wouldn’t it be great in everyday life if the solution for all of our losses was that easy?

What do you do to deal with your loss?  I’m not talking about death - but all the other ‘life losses’ that happen on a daily or weekly basis.   What I’m getting at looks something like this for me – Sometimes I experience such a sense of loss, and I wonder why.  I’ve not just experienced a death; I didn’t recently lose my job; I haven’t been mugged or robbed; I’ve not lost my best friend – but I feel loss nonetheless.  And….experiencing that loss, I find myself dealing with many of the same grief expressions as though I had gone through one of the major losses listed above – death, job loss, break up of a marriage or relationship, etc.  Those feelings can take on the look of depression, anger, betrayal, loneliness, panic, emptiness, despair, hopelessness.  To be able to identify that you are going through grief and loss is in itself helpful.  Then, to be able to name the loss is the second step (did someone trounce on your feelings; were you embarrassed in front of friends or family; did you say something stupid in a phone conversation; did you give your opinion when you wish you would have remained silent; were you ‘passed over’ for a promotion; are you dealing with your own mortality and aging process; are you going down the ‘what if’ road a bit too far – what will happen if…).

We see in Romans 8:28 “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Even in this loss God will work – He will take it and retrieve it or redeem it and help us walk through it.  In Proverbs 3 we are told, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” 

Though it may not be as easy to work our way through such loss as it is to paw through a ‘lost and found’ closet, God is the ‘retriever/redeemer’ of all of our losses.

So – next time you find that you are just generally ‘ticked’ and not sure why, ask yourself – “what loss might I be going through?” And – go to the One who understands, identifies and walks us through all of our grief and loss.

Friday
Jul092010

Making a Difference: What to do/How to Start?

1.        Is there one thing that any of us can do that will make a difference in the lives of others?  (The gift of listening!)  Picture in your mind’s eye a difficult situation in your life – it may be last week or last month; it may be this morning.  Now consider one of your primary needs during that crisis – my guess is that right up at the top of the list was someone to listen to you…non-judgmentally, non-critically, not trying to fix you or the situation, just to listen.  What a gift!

2.        In coming alongside of others who are grieving, are there helpful things to remember?  (The gift of caring from your heart!)  We can tell, can’t we, when someone really cares about us…really hurts with us….really wants to hear us tell our story….doesn’t just expect a ‘fine’ when they ask how we are doing.

3.        How does one respond when someone asks you the difficult “why did this happen?” (The gift of pointing them to the “Light and the Shepherd who will never leave them nor forsake them!)  “I wish I had the answer to that question – I wish I could give you a ‘magic bullet’ that would clear up the ‘why’s’ and ‘what next’ – but I do know that Jesus has said He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He also can handle our anger – He loves us unconditionally and non-judgmentally."

4.        What do you say to someone who tells you that they just don’t know what to say to a friend in crisis? (The gift of the ABC’s of caring!)  Who you are; THAT you know; and that you care…”Hi, this is Barb, and I just heard about your husband’s cancer diagnosis.  I am so sorry.”  This takes away the awkwardness of – “do they know, should I say….?”

5.        What if you have procrastinated in getting in touch with the friend who has suffered a loss – and you are embarrassed to reach out at this point?  (The gift of ‘it’s never too late to care!)  Send that card; write that email; pick up the phone.  “Hi, this is Barb.  I’ve been thinking about you so much and just wanted to call to touch base .”

6.        Do you have to be a professional to offer grief care? (The gift of serving!)  Loving and caring are gifts from the heart.  Offering to pray with and for someone; sitting with someone (even in the silence); holding their hand; being the funnel through whom they can get any professional help they may need – all of these things require ‘heart preparation’ much more than a professional degree.

7.        What do you tell someone who finds themselves in ‘over their heads’ in caring for another?  (The gift of referring!) Do NOT be afraid to refer.  While you may not be able to handle the needs of the person in crisis, you may be the perfect friend to help them get the help that they need.

CHOOSE ONE of the above – begin slow and small!



 

Wednesday
Jul072010

The Towel of the Servant...

Two thousand years ago, in a single, selfless act, a King took an ordinary towel
 and dried the feet of His disciples only hours before His crucifixion.

In Christ’s day, the roads throughout Palestine were dry and dusty.  When the rains came, they turned into seas of mud.  As travelers walked along these roads, their feet and sandals became dirty.  Can you envision as the disciples gathered, they may have had an inner struggle – knowing the right thing to do and yet being human like you and me!  “Hmmmm, I wonder who’s going to be the one to stoop (literally) and wash those dirty feet.  I hope no one expects it to be me!  My back hurts, my knees lock when I stoop like that, they may have cuts on their feet and long and dirty toenails that make the job disgusting.  I hope the homeowner has a servant there to wash our feet.  I’d like to be the first one – so that the towel isn’t too soiled or the water too dirty!”

Servanthood – Jesus personified for us for all eternity what it means to truly
 wash one another’s feet.  He could have just told us how important it was to Him 
that we serve one another; He could have explained the spiritual and cultural
 significance of wiping the dirty feet of one another – but instead He actually 
demonstrated in a very clear, obvious way what it means to be a servant.  Have you ever washed another’s feet – have you participated in a foot-washing ceremony?  Or, more importantly, have you had someone wash your feet?  It’s very humbling isn’t it? 

What are some other symbols you could use in your own family, in your neighborhood, at your office, in your friend group to exemplify to another –you want to ‘wash their feet?’  Might you ‘bite your tongue’ when you want to take credit for something; might you listen to someone’s story yet again when you have heard it numerous times before; might you let them ‘shine’ rather than yourself; might you go to their home and help with projects when you sense they are weary and overwhelmed….knowing that you have undone projects as well?  What about being their shoulder to cry on, their ear to listen, their ride to the attorney’s office when they’d rather not go alone?

A challenge I lay out to each of us is – find ways to wash another’s feet – be creative, be generous, be dispensers of God’s grace.


Thursday
Jul012010

Carrying each other’s burdens….as a fellow journeyer. 

Sometimes in our close relationships as we journey together, trying to figure out how to have close friends and to be a friend, we are lulled into a false impression that everyone in our ‘group’  is being honest about their struggles. 

Years ago, Ken and I were in a group of people where the husband in the family decided he did not want to be married anymore and left.  To all of us in our friend group, this was a ‘sudden’ decision – one we did NOT see coming!   We were heartbroken, of course, though not nearly as heartbroken as the young wife and son.  What happened?  We all thought we knew the family, that we knew their lives and kept up with one another.  Can pain and suffering be ‘hidden’ from those who are the closest to you?  Of course, it can.  Sometimes as fellow journeyers, we do not let others into our own lives, and yet we expect that they will let us into theirs.  God never intended that we ‘suffer in silence’ or that somehow to share your struggles means that you are less of a Christ-follower.  In fact, He tells us in Galatians 6:2 to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  How can you help carry something that you don’t even know exists or needs carrying?  The only way to fulfill this Scripture is for us to start being honest with one another.

To help carry each other’s burdens involves honesty, sacrifice (of time and self and prideful independence), transparency and commitment – commitment to care for one another, to be more interested in my friends needs and hurts than in my own.

The Galatians 6 passage goes on to talk about ‘each one carrying their own load’ – personal responsibility.  Different – from helping to be a burden bearer; however, because we all expect of others and ourselves that we carry our own load does not mean not caring and lack of personal involvement.  Remember – we are ‘responsible to’ --- not ‘responsible for!’


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