VOLUNTEERS; GOD BLESS THEM

This is not original, it was on a newsletter but I didn’t know who the author was. But…I like it! (Perhaps DJ Harley)

 

Many will be shocked to find,

When the day of judgement nears,

That there’s a special place in heaven

Set aside for volunteers.

 

Furnished with big recliners,

Satin couches and foot stools;

Where there’s no committee chairmen,

No group leaders or car pools,

 

No eager team that needs a coach,

No bazaar and no bake sale.

There will be nothing to staple,

Not one thing to fold or mail.

 

Telephone lists will be outlawed,

But a finger snap will bring

Cool drinks and gourmet dinners

And treats fit for a king.

 

You ask, “Who’ll serve these privileged few

And work for all they’re worth?”

“Why, all those who reap the benefits

And not once volunteer on earth!”

Healing and Restoration

So, subsequent to Community or Conformity, my questions would be:

  • what constitutes healing?
  • is healing the same for everyone?
  • do my limited knowledge and view of life inhibit what I understand healing to be?
  • I could probably go on!

Jim Stallard in “You Owe Me Dinner” said,

What is most beneficial to me is not so much a building that meets all the legal requirements, but rather an attitude that meets all the attributes of Jesus. And whilst Jesus certainly healed people, he didn’t heal everyone. I wasn’t healed, but I still needed all of my faith to help sustain me.

The Designer, Creator, Restorer and Sovereign God (as, to me, He has proved Himself to be) made us for relationship with Himself and each other. When we rebelled against His design and order, spoiling both types of relationship, He made the restoration of them possible by acting  in accordance with His own design. He made whatever sacrifice, and performed whatever action, was necessary to make available these restored relationships – if we desire to return to living according to design.

This God has declared that, for those who have chosen to return to this love-relationship, He will be using everything as part of the process of completing the restoration/healing He has provided for. Even the brokenness in individuals, and families, and communities as a result of their rebellion against design and order.

My response? This God, Father, has also declared that what He wants is for no one to perish as a result of their rebellion. He stated that He will use every choice, consequence, person and power; even rebellion itself, to draw those who will come, to His healing restoration. Sometimes we want to be ‘healed’ from the thing/s which are bringing us or someone else to restoration of relationship. And I see restoration of relationship as the ultimate in healing. I choose not to pursue the temporary, thereby sacrificing the permanent; the eternal. I would prefer the temporary at present, because this is the tangible which I have known. But I have had glimpses and tastes of  eternal healing and restoration. Therefore, I will trust the One who has proven Himself faithful and a promise-keeper; I trust that He is healing me and those around me from everything that hinders my intimacy with Him and those He has given me; I trust that He is healing others from everything that hinders their intimacy with Him and those He has given them.

I have witnessed and/or experienced healing after specific prayer; with and without the anointing of oil; with and without the presence of the one being prayed for; as a result of general living in surrender to the design and power of the Creator. I have also witnessed in one healed miraculously on a number of occasions, the healing of leaving the temporary and tangible for the eternal and permanent in death – because that free but expensive ticket had been taken hold of. 

I want for myself and for you, life according to design. Purpose, fulfilment, peace, unity, love, intimacy with the Creator and the created. May the process continue until its completion, may you desire to join me in this process. This is a journey with a certain destination. This journey is already paid for. Take hold of your free but expensive ticket and join me for healing, restoration and life according to design.

 

What would healing mean for you?

Community or Conformity?

For those in Christian circles, this may be a familiar theme. For others, maybe strange; perhaps ridiculous; novel…

My middle child (almost adult) was sharing a story from a friend/previous teacher concerning the desire of some people that they be ‘healed’ from their blindness. Someone pulled their car over to the side of the road to invite this friend and her companions to church, exclaiming that he had prayed for the healing of blind people in the past and they were ‘healed’. Her response was that she believes in and has seen God’s miraculous healing herself, and that receiving her sight was for God’s timing. Perhaps more importantly though, this passer-by came across as pushy and didn’t even address this friend directly but spoke about her to her companions (very common). My eldest has been stopped in the street by someone insisting on praying for his ‘healing’, which he was obliged to allow. Their father and I have repeatedly been asked (sometimes by the same person) to present our children at the front of the church building so that others can pray for their ‘healing’.

My daughter’s response?

 In relation to this subject, I haven’t been prayed for or have had this offer personally, but I know my parents have. I’m not sure how they responded in those situations, but I know from my perspective that I don’t consider myself sick. If I hadn’t been blind, there would be so many people I would not have met, people I wouldn’t have been able to share the gospel with and places I wouldn’t have been. I also think that if my sight were restored, I’d have all this vision and wouldn’t know what to do. I would have to learn to read and write again, and basically how to do basic every day things. Furthermore, I/we live in a developed country with services such as Vision Australia and Guide Dogs. In Jesus’ time when he healed blind people, they were “begging”. (No V A back then). So, while I have no sight I can live life, work, I have family and friends and a place in society. These people, because of their lack of sight, experienced absolute poverty: no food, money or social class in society. For Jesus to heal them was not only to heal their sight; but to restore (or rather allow) them a place in their communities. So basically, I’m happy the way I am. I will have my sight healed in one way or another (be it in this life or when I see Jesus in Heaven); but if God chooses to heal my sight while I am here on Earth so be it. If not, I’m feeling perfectly healthy and well and happy with my life at the moment.

My response? I’ll end with quoting myself from the Sympathy Versus Empathy post:

Sympathy alone would lend me to want to change another’s circumstances or person to suit me, make me feel better, achieve my goals, remove all that is a bother to me, include all that would make my life easier…A good beginning but a potentially disabling, judgemental, intrusive and ultimately self-seeking end. Not any of the things I associate with love, compassion or community. Empathy, on the other hand, and if an extension of the sympathy I first experience, would lend me to consider what would be in the best interests of the other. I might ask what their experience actually is, what their goals and frustrations are, what are their passions and hurts…the list could go on. I might then be able to feel and say, “I think I can see how you feel or why you would want that.”

Unity, inclusion, community, acceptance, respect, interdependence, individuality…cannot exist in conformity. I think we are sadly mistaken if we have imagined conformity to be the same as inclusive community.

Miscommunication and Misconceptions

Written in braille and stuck to our kitchen wall is a comment written by my youngest while she was in the 5th grade. It was part of a book response, I believe, and reads as follows:

Sometimes we can misunderstand things and assume things that might not be the truth. But you can overcome those things by talking about it with other people and making sure you don’t assume things too often because what you think is happening might not be true.

Having blind children leads to lots of misconception and miscommunication – some because of intentional ignorance, some because of a lack of information or real-life experiences. A few are disheartening, most are  amusing, and some downright hilarious! We laugh about the disability in our family because it is a normal part of our life (though not our life in its entirety). My children are not offended by the word ‘blind’, because they are blind; their vision is not impaired, they have no vision and this is normal for them. They do not feel as though they are ‘missing out’ on things they have never experienced, and their father and I have always endeavoured to do our best to engage them in as many experiences as we can. I have no desire in this post to share the disheartening (though that may come another time), but here are some of the humourous – with my mostly-grown-children’s permission.

Our youngest was 3 years old and did not want to ride on the shuttle-bus at Australia Zoo in Queensland, crying almost hysterically and shaking somewhat. She had spent the day with our new friend, not wanting anything to do with old familiar family members, but suddenly HAD to be with me. It wasn’t until we had driven off a little way that I had a thought and told her that we were not going into space; it was not that kind of shuttle but more like a tractor with carriages. The crying stopped and she instantly desired to go back to the new friend. 

This same child a couple of years later was in our new vehicle with siblings, myself and an uncle taking the new car for a ‘spin’. While looking around the back of her seat she found a button (for folding down the back rest giving access to the boot/trunk) and asked what it was for. The accommodating uncle said it was the ejector seat button and immediately the tears started to flow until she was informed that the car did not have an ejector seat.

The eldest has recently had his first sky diving experience, which he loved. I wonder how I knew that he would…

At the age of about 5 years, Mr. fell from his top bunk bed. It took a number of seconds before tears began to fall and when I asked what he thought when he fell, he responded with, “I liked it when I was going through the air, but not when I hit the floor!”

A couple of years earlier, perhaps age 3 years, I was cleaning at one end of the house when he and is first sister were playing in the living area. His sister could not crawl or move about independently as yet. I was constantly venturing out to their space to respond to his sister’s whimpers but whenever I arrived, there was nothing going on and she was alone. Eventually I decided not to leave but stand in my place silently for a few minutes. Mr. 3 year old came running out of the laundry, clapped his sister on the head with both hands, and subsequently ran back to the laundry. When his name was announced with volume and intensity, he responded with, “What!” I asked why he hit his sister, “I didn’t,” he responded. I then explained to him that I was standing in the room and saw him do it. He was in fact ‘in trouble’ but I was in stitches.

Miss in the middle has given/experienced much consternation! Here are a couple.

As a Miss 5, she with the rest of us were going to experience the ferry across Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. She was very concerned about the car-carrying boat tipping over and depositing us all in the water, where there may be sharks. We were informed my a member of the crew that even if the ferry sank, the roof wouldn’t be submerged but someone was not convinced. The day before our trip, as cars were being driven aboard, we were allowed to walk onto the bottom deck to see how much the boat would rock. We were then ok to travel. Whew!

One of the best stories though, was when she was somewhat older but only by a few short years and entered the bathroom where dad had finished his bath after sowing crops in the paddock. She found little balls on the floor and was distressed about the headband she believed had broken, and picked a few ‘beads’ up asking dad to fix it for her. His response? They were not beads but dried urea (which had to be explained – ask a farmer), and were very quickly dropped again.

Laugh out loud! It’s good for your heart, body, soul, spirit, family, relationships, work, attitude…just laugh a lot. If you can’t find your laugh switch, and I know what that is like, look for someone who can find it for you…and thank them. 

Sympathy Versus Empathy

A well-intentioned statement in a conversation recently, reminded me of many others and the way we embrace the attitudes of sympathy or empathy and the subsequent out-working of those attitudes. I have been reading definitions of these two words from different dictionaries and psychologists and I have some musings of my own.

We often think that we know what would be best for someone or presume what their preferences would be, but our view is often born out of what we would prefer or consider best. My preferences and ‘best’ will not always, or hardly ever, be the same as another in similar circumstances. The fact that I was well-intentioned is almost irrelevant.

I think that it is perhaps better if sympathy is a step along the path to empathy out of which appropriate attitude and action can stem.

Sympathy is recognising that I agree with you about how you feel or view something, but it is my feeling or view that I experience and respond to. We need sympathy in order to consider how something would affect us, whether positively or negatively, and to then think about how we might react or take part in something.

Empathy is the ‘art’ or perhaps discipline of attempting to walk in someone else’s shoes. It implies to me an intentional effort of mind and soul to consider what someone else’s experience might be. I can do this through conversation and question of the other; through consideration of anything I already know of the other’s history and present; through observing the other’s outward expression of their experience – whether positive or negative, verbal or physical…

Sympathy alone would lend me to want to change another’s circumstances or person to suit me, make me feel better, achieve my goals, remove all that is a bother to me, include all that would make my life easier…A good beginning but a potentially disabling, judgemental, intrusive and ultimately self-seeking end. Not any of the things I associate with love, compassion or community. Empathy, on the other hand, and if an extension of the sympathy I first experience, would lend me to consider what would be in the best interests of the other. I might ask what their experience actually is, what their goals and frustrations are, what are their passions and hurts…the list could go on. I might then be able to feel and say, “I think I can see how you feel or why you would want that.”

Our Designer said that love is not self-seeking and that loving community involves each having the same love, and looking out for the interests of others as well as ourselves.

I’m reminded of a few quotes that have struck me in relation to empathy, community, met needs and contribution. The first from Edith Cavell, a World War I nurse on the day before her German execution – on patriotism (which I saw as a perceived ‘good intention’)

…standing as I do before God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

The second is Kurt Fearnley – paralympian, Young Australian of the Year, OAM and much more

Without empathy and support from within my community I would have never found my way to the life I get to live now; a life that hinged on successful financial rationalisation, where a community found that the cost to support me was an investment into the lives of all of those who I have been able to interact with.

And my friend, Tom, posed the question this past weekend of what my biggest need is today following with

(Our Designer) doesn’t just pick you up, dust you off and send you on your way.

(He) picks us up and transforms us.

That’s what I want, transformation. That’s what I want for you too. Transformation is what I want for our communities.

I can suffer you sit by me while I live life. Or I can work with you, and you with me, so that we both live each of our lives with fulfilment, participation, community – but as interdependant individuals, not dominant/compliant carbon copies

Learning From Children

One of the best books I have read about having children with a disability is ‘Lessons I Learned From My Child’. I have loaned it to a friend and can’t remember the authors at present, but it was written by a psychologist, and parents, with parent stories for illustration. It was published in New Zealand and takes you through the process/stages of grief when there is disability in the family.

The ‘lesson’ I most appreciated from the book was that when there is disability in one’s family, especially a child, grief is usually perpetual. Death is an event, and although the pain and loss is revisited throughout life in varying degrees and hopefully with decreased intensity, the event has passed. When a child has a disability grieving events keep coming; milestones reached late or not at all, life experiences not to be had or that show up ‘difference’…I appreciated this the most because I learned that my grief was normal even in these circumstances, and I know that grief needs to be experienced – allowed – in order to process through it regardless of how many times I face this process. My recent, and not-yet-complete, journey through a grief of another kind confirms this to be true, as does much research.

I have learned many other lessons from and because of my children also. As a result of needing input from physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, early childhood educators and specialist teachers, orientation and mobility instructors (and often doing these things alongside families with myriad disabilities),  I have learned much about the human body, mind, soul and spirit. I have learned much about the impact of each of these on the other; the impact of relationships on the individual and vice-versa; the impact of the inner self on development, interaction, attitude, influence…

From my children specifically, I have learned not to be afraid (though I often still am). My children have taught me what it is to accept myself, because they do that of themselves. As their parent, I have learned that as one of their primary care-givers and instructors, I contribute to who they are but I do not entirely make them who they are. The uniqueness of every individual is beautiful, mysterious, challenging, enlightening, confusing and a wonder to me.

There is so much in others that I wish to be a part of me. Some of these things I can learn and develop, but some are not mine to have. They belong with someone else as parts of me are mine alone, and I need to be ok with that. To be reverently made is a wonderful truth.

Embrace yourself and those around you, making each of us more of a wonder – daily.