Tag Archive | caring for others

Awkward…

So, let’s just get this out of the way up front. Today’s post is a little awkward because it involves something that we don’t often talk about. The word begins with “F” and rhymes with art.

I think you catch my drift. So why am I talking about it? Read on and you’ll see.

Back in November, my brother, his wife, Greg and I, and my dad enjoyed a 10-day Caribbean cruise together. We ate great food and even some not so great food. We enjoyed tours on the islands and there was plenty of time in the sun. We even took steel drum lessons which was not only fun but LOUD. Yes, the cruise was everything we anticipated it would be.

But there was that one awkward moment.

The ships are huge and the elevators often crowded so my philosophy is to take the stairs whenever possible. It gets you to your destination faster and the exercise helps offset the extraordinary number of calories consumed through the day.

Typically, you run into other people using the stairs but on one of my stair-climbing expeditions, it was just me and a lady coming down as I was going up. We acknowledged each other with the usual head nod but on this occasion, the lady also acknowledged me out loud. With…you guessed it…a fart.

I didn’t know what to do.

Had I been with my family or in church, I might have snickered or even burst out laughing. But this was a stranger to me and in a flash all sorts of scenarios went through my head. First was the thought This is a completely natural thing; we all fart. And then I wondered if I was the one passing gas, would I have acknowledged it by apologizing or saying “oops?” I had no idea. I even thought about saying “oops” myself with a smile so she would know I wasn’t at all offended.

As it turns out, neither of us said or did anything. There was no acknowledgement, we just continued on our way. Thought, I have to admit I had quite a smile on my face as climbed the remaining stairs. Maybe because it was funny or maybe because I was glad it hadn’t been me.

Awkward moments happen all the time.

We encounter awkward situations all the time and like the one above we don’t always know how to respond. After asking a neighbor how they’re doing we might hear back “Well, I lost my job so not great.” Or “Life is rough now, my drug addicted 40-year old son just relapsed for the third time.” One time I asked the how-ya-doing question almost like saying hello and I was surprised when the person burst out crying instead of saying fine.

While times like that can be a bit awkward, they also open the door to real ministry. When a person bursts out crying right in front of you, it shows me their need for comfort, reassurance, or someone to care. Right then, right now.

And the same often holds true when the unexpected answer to your greeting reveals a lost job, marital infidelity, or a child with drug problems, etc.

What to do?

It can be difficult for people to reach out and ask for that help or to simply admit they’re experiencing a rough time. But if someone takes the time to respond to your simple greeting or if they come to you for help all on their own, please, please be ready to respond. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Be ready for the unexpected. If you ask how someone is doing, be prepared for anything. And respond appropriately. Sometimes all that’s needed is a kind word, some sincere reassurance, a hug. Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
  2. Do something. Don’t just nod your head. In addition, offer something and be specific, be practical. I’m sorry you’re going through this. May I pray with you right now? I can see you’re overwhelmed; I’d like to ease the load and provide a meal. Or can I run that errand for you?
  3. Follow-up. Many will vaguely offer help but leave it at that. Or they might even help ONCE and then never check in. Be the one who stays connected, who shows you care long-term. Be the one who digs in for the long haul with the one needing help so they don’t feel alone.

Ministry isn’t always convenient or easy or a one-time deal. You often pay a cost such as an expenditure of time or money. But boy, is the payoff worth it!

Matthew 25:40 reminds us: (Jesus talking) “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’

Mimi

Advertisements

Warm hospitality greeted us in Murphy, North Carolina.

There are lots of ways to spend Memorial Day weekend. Watching parades, honoring our Vets, doing nothing at all, catching up on your recorded television programs, making up for lost sleep, taking a short trip, etc. And taking a short trip is just what we did.

Traveling with friends, we drove to Murphy, North Carolina to see some other friends who live in the Bear  Paw lake community where it is secluded, wooded, quiet, and absolutely lovely. The photos here don’t do it justice.

While there we took a boat ride, did a little walking, went to several potluck suppers, met lots of friendly people, and partook in a few naps as well. There’s just something about sleeping with windows open and the birds singing that lulls you to sleep…even in the middle of the day.

What made this particular adventure so much fun was that we were all so completely taken care of by our hosts John and Marie. We were welcomed with open arms and we left rested up, with precious memories, and tears in our eyes.

There was not a thing we needed to do or bring to make our stay wonderful. All was provided down to packets containing toothbrushes and toothpaste in case we had forgotten ours. While we were invited to help ourselves in the kitchen, we were also soon to find out that John and Marie wanted us to enjoy a relaxing get-away so they took care of all the meals from food prep to cooking to cleaning up afterwards. And Marie is quite the cook. I think we all ate a little too much of her delicious meals!

It had been awhile since I was pampered to such an extent. And while my first instinct was to insist I wanted to help, I realized John and Marie were giving us a gift: of hospitality and relaxation. So, I graciously accepted everything they did for us and enjoyed a wonderful three days with people I love.

The Bible has much to say about hospitality and caring for others. John and Marie were shining examples.

  1. Love others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also area to love one another” (John 13:34).
  2. Put others first. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
  3. Work tirelessly on behalf of others. “And let us not grow weary of doing good…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Our Beautiful Hosts

It’s easy to be on the receiving end of hospitality, yet the giving end, though often joy-filled, can also be exhausting. But let’s rise to the Scriptural challenge to extend hospitality as we look for opportunities to serve others, to warmly invite them into our lives, to be willing to work without ceasing to meet their needs. And to show them the amazing, astounding love of Christ.

Mimi