Not One Hundred Percent

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 8, 2015

What do you do when you aren’t feeling quite well? Do you drag around, trying to make do with what you can? Or, do you get plenty of rest? This blog post from a year ago relates a little about me and my day of being kind when I did not feel one hundred percent.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not One Hundred Percent

hospital-patient

I didn’t feel one hundred percent today. Sub par. Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of the house this morning. Once I had started the day and was outside, I felt better. (I ought to take my own advice, since that’s what I’ve said to my children for years when they don’t feel very chipper in the morning.)

I had the opportunity to be with a senior for a bit today. This senior needed some assistance and companionship, and I was happy to provide it. We didn’t talk too much, but this senior was content to simply sit with me there as a companion. I was very much aware of the ministry of presence. My being-with this senior was loving and giving of myself.

I know what the ministry of presence is, but some do not. Simply put, it is not a human doing, but instead becoming a human being. Simply being present with another person. I’ve been told by many people that my caring, less-anxious presence can be gentle and calming. Sometimes that’s what anxious or frightened or upset people need. And oftentimes, I provide it.

Several of my former supervisors mentioned this aspect of my character (my giftedness?). I think back to how I began this post, and connected it to a verbatim I wrote for my first chaplain internship. The verbatim concerned a senior couple at the hospital where I did my clinical rotation. However, one of the most distinctive things about that in-depth paper was one of the learning issues that I dealt with at the time. How do I manage to navigate and work when I don’t feel up to par? Not one hundred percent? I was not feeling quite chipper for the clinical day at the hospital, either. Yet God was still able to use me.

I did pray before I went to the floors for my clinical chaplain visits that day. It’s amazing. I wrote this particular verbatim almost ten years ago, yet I can still see and hear portions of the conversation and interaction in my mind. Upon reflection afterwards, I was awed by the openness of both the husband and the patient. God has given me an open heart and open ears to listen to people who are hurting. That’s a big reason why I went to seminary in the first place—to get further training in how to more intelligently, actively listen to people, and to walk with them as they go through difficult places in their lives. I am surprised at how little I did say to both of these dear seniors, reading over the verbatim just now. Yet the couple seemed really happy with my visit, and really wanted me to come back.

This situation in my verbatim was early in my experience as a chaplain. However, even then I used the ministry of presence. Today I come alongside of people, being with them. Sometimes I talk with them, and sometimes I’m quiet. For example, like I was with the senior I helped today. I tried to be a gentle, friendly companion, and I think I succeeded.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Be Kind? Encourage and Comfort!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 28, 2014

sun behind clouds over water

Be Kind? Encourage and Comfort!

I was pastoral today. How, you ask? I paid two pastoral visits to two seniors.

Both visits were much appreciated. Both visits involved active listening, a less-anxious presence, and being receptive to whatever came up. One visit was fairly short. The other was much longer. And, both dear people told me straight up that they were grateful and thankful I visited.

How simple a thing it is to go to a care center or to a person’s home, and visit with them for a bit. (Or even, for a little longer.) I know I can follow the many suggestions written in the Bible in a myriad of ways, but visiting sick friends is a sure fire way. Let’s take another look at my verse for July, James 1:22. “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” Visiting those who are sick and homebound is definitely in the ballpark of doing what our Lord Jesus did. If I use my gifts and skills of encouragement, comfort and a less-anxious presence, I am doing the Word. Just like the apostle James urged us to do! This is a loving and encouraging thing for most people to do, too.

But because of my job—my profession—I find myself in care centers and hospitals much more often than I would like. Plus, I have been trained specifically to minister to people in these settings. Because I find myself in these stressful and even traumatic situations, managing my own emotions is of paramount importance, too.

As I think back on my two visits today, I consider being open and receptive to whatever came up an important part of my being present with them. Of course, nothing really out of the ordinary happened at either visit today. But, you never know. In my years as a chaplain, a number of unexpected, or even occasionally, shocking things happened. I have been present quite a number of times as someone has slowly stopped breathing, and their heart has stopped pumping. Usually, I joined family members and loved ones. But some of the time, I was the only one able or available to stay and be with people as they died. So they would not be alone.

But it doesn’t have to be so traumatic. I’ve been in hospital and rehab center rooms along with small children. (Often unpredictable! And sometimes, amusing! Kids say the darnedest things.) A few times, I can remember occasions when a patient would have almost everyone rolling on the floor, they would have such a way with them. Telling jokes, cracking wise. And, I remember when people were very much afraid. Terrified. That’s both patients as well as their loved ones. I would do my very best to remain less-anxious. Not display my difficulty or dis-ease. (Or is it un-ease?)

God, thank You for these two dear seniors. I pray for them and their families, and all who love them and care for them. In Your mercy, Lord, hear my prayer.

@chaplaineliza

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

Got Concerns? Be of Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peace John 14-27

Got Concerns? Be of Service!

Yesterday evening, I heard a dear acquaintance of mine was in the hospital. I needed to take care of some necessary personal stuff this morning (including getting a check-up on my tooth extraction, which I found is healing nicely!). Later in the morning, I tried to track down my friend, making several telephone calls. I was successful! I met with my friend this afternoon. We had a nice (and brief) visit; I do hope everything will be going well at the rehab center from now on.

Sure, I had concerns! Of course I was wondering what was happening! Yes. Not only for my friend, but also for myself (and my tooth). And, those were only two of the things I did. But even though I did some necessary business today, I still was able to check on my friend. I did not allow my concerns to paralyze me and cause me unnecessary distress or anxiety. I was able to deal with these several concerns, using my less-anxious presence. (Thank you, chaplain training!)

I remember a situation some years ago, when I only had my first two daughters. The older had just finished kindergarten. My younger one was three. Our family attended a church for the first time. Then, coffee hour time! (Cookie hour, my children called it.) The girls were running around in the church basement with the other Sunday school children. Wouldn’t you know that my oldest took a flying leap off the stage. (She was very athletic.) She landed on her feet, no problem. But she had too much momentum. She continued in a forward direction, and crash-landed on her face and hands. Crying ensued. Plus—she chipped her brand-new top front teeth.

I was only a few dozen feet away, so I came to her side. The pastor’s wife was a registered nurse, so she wasn’t far behind me. She checked out my daughter, who—other than being a bit surprised by her accidental meeting with the floor—was quite all right. The pastor’s wife remarked to me afterwards she was surprised that my daughter’s crying subsided so quickly. She looked at me more closely, and made a discerning statement. She said my calm, quiet demeanor in such a traumatic situation really helped my daughter to calm and quiet herself. I was amazed at her words. (And I still remember them, about twenty-five years later.)

Amazing, prescient words. And look at me now! God has led me through seminary, into chaplain training and service. Now, into pastoral ministry. Thank God I can be there for people like my friend at the rehab center, today. And, thank God I have been trained to use my natural less-anxious presence effectively, in a number of situations. God, how are You going to lead me to serve tomorrow? I suspect it will be interesting, whatever it is.

@chaplaineliza

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

Not One Hundred Percent

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 9, 2014

hospital patient

Not One Hundred Percent

I didn’t feel one hundred percent today. Sub par. Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of the house this morning. Once I had started the day and was outside, I felt better. (I ought to take my own advice, since that’s what I’ve said to my children for years when they don’t feel very chipper in the morning.)

I had the opportunity to be with a senior for a bit today. This senior needed some assistance and companionship, and I was happy to provide it. We didn’t talk too much, but this senior was content to simply sit with me there as a companion. I was very much aware of the ministry of presence. My being-with this senior was loving and giving of myself.

I know what the ministry of presence is, but some do not. Simply put, it is not a human doing, but instead becoming a human being. Simply being present with another person. I’ve been told by many people that my caring, less-anxious presence can be gentle and calming. Sometimes that’s what anxious or frightened or upset people need. And oftentimes, I provide it.

Several of my former supervisors mentioned this aspect of my character (my giftedness?). I think back to how I began this post, and connected it to a verbatim I wrote for my first chaplain internship. The verbatim concerned a senior couple at the hospital where I did my clinical rotation. However, one of the most distinctive things about that in-depth paper was one of the learning issues that I dealt with at the time. How do I manage to navigate and work when I don’t feel up to par? Not one hundred percent? I was not feeling quite chipper for the clinical day at the hospital, either. Yet God was still able to use me.

I did pray before I went to the floors for my clinical chaplain visits that day. It’s amazing. I wrote this particular verbatim almost ten years ago, yet I can still see and hear portions of the conversation and interaction in my mind. Upon reflection afterwards, I was awed by the openness of both the husband and the patient. God has given me an open heart and open ears to listen to people who are hurting. That’s a big reason why I went to seminary in the first place—to get further training in how to more intelligently, actively listen to people, and to walk with them as they go through difficult places in their lives. I am surprised at how little I did say to both of these dear seniors, reading over the verbatim just now. Yet the couple seemed really happy with my visit, and really wanted me to come back.

This situation in my verbatim was early in my experience as a chaplain. However, even then I used the ministry of presence. Today I come alongside of people, being with them. Sometimes I talk with them, and sometimes I’m quiet. For example, like I was with the senior I helped today. I tried to be a gentle, friendly companion, and I think I succeeded.

@chaplaineliza