One of the mainstays of my personal ministry is writing notes to those who need care. As author Debbie...
What is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give another person?
You don’t have to go to the mall to buy it. It’s free, and it is one of the most powerful ways to be God’s “light” to those who are suffering. What is this wonderful gift? It is listening, really listening to another person. Hearing his or her story and helping the person tell his or her story.
I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. When people are talking . . .listen to what they're saying. Care about it. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain. And meaning it. One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like than happen to them.
How can we involve our children and teenagers in caregiving? A wise person in the book of Proverbs says, "Train a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from the way." So, I believe that if we want our children to grow up to be compassionate caregivers as adults we need to (1) model caregiving--talk about it and then let them see us actually caring for people. It is true, "Actions speak louder than words." (2) We also we need to involve them in actual caregiving.
So following are some ideas from my family's experiences:
My first response is the old adage which says, "actions speak louder than words." Of paramount importance is that your friend feels your love and support. Hold the baby.
*As one mother said, "Hold our baby. Holding the baby says, "This handicap is not a barrier. I accept this special little person." You can even say this out loud to the baby and to the parent(s), "This handicap is not a barrier. I accept this special little person. I want to be a part of this baby's life."
Margaret Vermeer served as a missionary in Nigeria. When she was seven months pregnant, she received the report that a biopsy of a small tumor was malignant. Five weeks after the surgery to remove the tumors, she gave birth to a son, then began chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For two years she had a miraculous remission, but then gradually more tumors appeared.
One way we can model Christian Caregiving at Christmas time is a tradition which we have done in our family for 20 years. Early in Advent we send each child and grandchild the following letter. Then on Christmas, each person describes the gift which he or she has chosen, and how the gift will help to improve someone's life. Then on a large world map, the person indicates with a star sticker where her or his gift is going. Then he or she lights a small votive candle, which reminds us that we are called to be "lights" in God's world.