Being Kind While Assembling a Puzzle?

A Year of Being Kind blog –Tuesday, March 25, 2014

KIND another one kind word

Being Kind While Assembling a Puzzle?

There are lots of new things to learn when a person gets a new job. Even when a person knows how to do the component parts of the position, still. I compare it to putting the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, I know most of these various parts of my new position, but I have just barely gotten started. I suppose I am still turning all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle over, and starting to put the border together. (to take the analogy a bit further, that is)

I’ve learned so much from so many different places! For example, I started learning visitation in earnest when I was a chaplain intern at a large retirement center. That was more than ten years ago, when I attended seminary.

I still remember the first resident I visited. The frail, elderly senior was in the health care unit. My chaplain supervisor encouraged me to visit this dear person, and gave me a little background on the senior’s physical and mental condition. The senior’s spine was chronically, increasingly bent and deformed. The mental condition was deteriorating, too, although simple language and communication still were effective. I spoke gently and cheerfully to this person, talking about my small children. My younger two were in primary grades at the time. I got very little feedback, but I knew this senior recognized I was there. I tried to be a gentle yet cheerful presence, yet I wondered afterwards how effective I could possibly have been. I remember talking about this visit with my supervisor afterwards, too. He encouraged me to continue—and continue I did.

This was where I started to learn about how to be present with people, in a gentle, caring way. I found I have a real ability in this area. Several chaplain and pastoral supervisors have told me about it, especially how I am able to be with people in a calm, less-anxious way. Not always, of course. But as I am with people, I discover this calm, gentle manner just sort of switches on. And happens.

So, I know how to be with people in serious, even traumatic situations, from my years of serving as a chaplain. I can see how this skill will be applicable to my new position, from time to time. Even more often sometimes. Like today—I was present with someone and encouraged them just by being there. I did not say too much. However, I heard them thank me, heard the appreciation in their voice. That’s satisfaction, to be sure. And I suspect my being with people, my gentle, caring presence is a large part of my job—of the puzzle that makes up my new position.

This living one-day-at-a-time business sure is interesting! I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Advertisements

Being Kind While Distracted?

A Year of Being Kind blog –Thursday, March 20, 2014

you are not alone

Being Kind While Distracted?

The last day at my conference for alcohol and drug counselors was today! Yes, there were some fantastic sessions! However, I had a difficult time concentrating.  But more about that, later.

The morning session was on ethics: the ethics of doing what counselors do, the dual relationships that can happen, and what might possibly be the results of those interactions. Dual relationships are a difficult animal! Sure, they happen, from time to time. And especially in parts of rural Illinois. This conference drew people from all over the state, so we had an opportunity to hear things from a wide variety of workplaces and backgrounds.

I enjoyed the afternoon session, too. The two facilitators presented a topic that made a lot of sense, given the kinds of people drug and alcohol counselors usually work with. The topic was on family systems—the way families work. Add some cultural differences and some relationship insights, and stir briskly. Then sprinkle with substance abuse issues, and what do you get? A common problem that people in this field often are forced to deal with. Family issues go far beyond anything that one individual might be dealing with.

Yes, I was interested in both sessions! I happened to sign up ahead of time (when I sent in my conference fee, last month). But there was some additional relationship stuff going on right now. I mean, with me, personally and currently. Or rather, with one of my family members. Since I was at a conference with other counselors, I thought, what a great place to get some advice! I asked two or three of my fellow counselors some general questions: here’s a basic situation, I said. How would you deal with it? What is one starting point? Where do you think you might concentrate?  And I also wanted to know, what was one action plan you might suggest? Since I was and am so close to my family situation, I need all the help I can get.

As I’ve mentioned before, the people at this conference are kind, encouraging, and caring, in all kinds of situations. Just so, in my personal situation, as well. Yes, I was distracted! Yes, it was quite a challenge to keep my mind on the sessions I was sitting in. But thank God, people were kind to me. I reciprocated, to the very best extent I could! I think it is marvelous that I am a part of a professional group that has such loving and caring people as members. I know that many of these people are people of faith, and I was able to connect with a few of them in that area, too. Able to be present with each other.

I also know that God is present with me, even though I am going through a rough time. (And it’s not just my business–it involves several others. If it were just my rough time I am talking about, I would let you know!) I take deep breaths. Say the Serenity Prayer. It’s not just an intellectual understanding, but I also have a deep-down feeling that God is right here, too. Next to me, for real. God is right next to you, too. Believe it.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday morning - Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 - Painting Prayers

Saturday morning – Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 – Painting Prayers

How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

My family took a trip today to Michigan and back. Not particularly a nice day for travel, but we had a luncheon appointment planned for this particular day. We went to a fine restaurant in a small town in Michigan and met two older relatives for lunch. Comfortable eating place, wonderful view, excellent company. I think I can safely speak for us all if I say a fine time was had by all of us.

One of the relatives has done a good bit of (lay) work for the church, for a number of decades. I had the opportunity to seriously listen to him and glean some wisdom from him and his vast experience. What an opportunity! I was very glad I could do that. I could see that he felt good, sharing his expertise. And I? I was listening with both ears open—and pen in hand—taking down all the information I could.

On the way back to Chicago this afternoon, I reflected upon the serious discussion the two of us had over the coffee cups, after lunch. Since I’ve worked as a chaplain for most of the past ten years, I could say that I am also a professional-listener. I listen to people with several aural filters: first, spiritual. Since I often act as a chaplain, I have a primary focus on people’s spiritual orientation (and I don’t mean “religious!” but instead, spiritual, internal focus). Second, emotional. I am naturally intuitive and a feeling/perceptive person, so I can actively listen to individuals and their feeling/emotional orientation.

So, I used my active listening skills at lunch today. (It was automatic—they just sort-of switched on. I found myself in the middle of this significant conversation, and I felt my internal, active listening just being there. Fully operational.) Meanwhile, something was going on under the surface inside of my head while I was cogitating on this conversation. I also reflected on something I recently heard at a gathering of friends. A new acquaintance was speaking. She said quite a number of excellent things. However, what was the most significant thing I thought she said? The most important thing she could do for people besides showing up for them was being fully present with them. I truly appreciated that, and took that thought home with me. The zinger for me? I somehow connected the two trains of thought.

I guess I could say that I was fully present with my older relative today. I listened attentively to him after lunch, with appreciation for his wisdom and expertise. I guess I could also say I took the opportunity to be kind today. Actually, the act of service was a two-way gift this afternoon—both for my relative and for me. I think it is just superb how God sovereignly acts in disparate situations and ties them together in my mind—like at lunch today, and in my remembrance of this recent conversation. Awesome job, God! Thanks so much!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.