Caring for people

 

Last updated 1/17/2023 at Noon



As 2022 ended, The Nugget ran a section honoring those who died in 2022. Men and women who mattered to the community, in both large and small ways. However, my mind immediately went to those who were left behind, the spouses, the children, the parents. Are they alone? Is someone reaching out to them? Is someone sharing their grief? Whose responsibility is it?

Our culture of giving special attention to the deceased individual is honorable, but what about the surviving loved ones? Do we consider what they have gone through or are going through? Are friends and family — ones who’ve historically given care — being overlooked? I recently received a phone call from my sister. She told me my 93-year-old dad, who lives alone in Massachusetts, fell and broke his ribs. He is alone and already compromised with cancer and hearing loss — how do we care for him?

This raises another question: Has today’s cultural climate altered our ability to care for one another?

At Sisters Community Church (SCC) we’ve adopted a mission statement that I’ve shared in this column before: Connecting with God, Caring for People, Cultivating Community. Our commitment to care for people comes from God. We believe he’s a caring God, and we want to act in ways that reflect that. But how is that done?

Our “virtual” lifestyle has left us more disconnected than ever before, resulting in more needy and hurting people — people without caregivers, the kind of caring people who can sit and listen. We have seen an increase in mental illness producing an even greater degree of separation. Many who are without family, lonely people who cannot afford the kind of care that a residential facility can provide.

Who will care? The lack of real answers leaves us all feeling ill-equipped. How do we provide the care so desperately needed?

According to a Gallup poll, over 300 million adults live in total loneliness. Global research reports that unhappiness is at an unprecedented high. This is a worldwide problem. The poll also concludes that people everywhere feel sadder now than any other time in the past 16 years.

According to a Gallup research project called Blind Spot (focused on the global rise of unhappiness), it takes 50 hours to make an acquaintance, 90 hours to make a good friend, and 200 hours to make a best friend. Caring for one another requires time!

In the book “The Good Life,” a research project out of Harvard determined that true happiness comes from meaningful relationships and caring for one another. Caring for one another is a win-win — it rewards both the giver and the receiver. The Golden Rule seems to emphasize that: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Caring for people is a part of the reason why SCC exists. We believe that begins with caring for one another both within the church and beyond it. I loved seeing a bunch of our middle school children, all on their own, raise funds in order to provide the homeless with socks, gloves, and underwear. That is caring in action!

During the Christmas season we shared in the grief of those who had lost loved ones with an event called Blue Christmas. We wept with those who wept because we know a shared burden is half a burden.

We’ve learned that putting our resources together makes a difference. Caring makes a huge difference. We believe caring is born of love — and love changes things. Love finds a way to bridge economic barriers, racial barriers, gender barriers, and age barriers. Love teaches us to care!

And we have a great example, because Jesus cares! We follow the one who cared so much that he sacrificed himself for his friends — and for his enemies. With some of his last words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Jesus changed the world. Lives are changed forever because he cared... He still cares. Our prayer is SCC will continue to learn how to better care and serve our whole community.

Steve Stratos is a pastor at Sisters Community Church.

 

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