As we journey physically, emotionally and spiritually through challenging seasons in our lives, as individuals and families, we often can get a clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities that suffering can bring to a community of faith.
I have been blessed with fantastic cross-cultural examples of rich ways of caring fur one another and while I’m grateful for that, I recognise that there’s always more to learn. Here are some ideas that might be helpful.
Open the door
If you are going through tough things, let people know straight away. Don’t assume they can read between the lines or read your mind. They need to know. Your humble vulnerability opens the door for them to play their part in supporting you. The Christian community is one of the open doors and open hearts.
If you heard it, own it
If you hear about someone struggling, get involved. Don’t assume someone else will do that because they might do the same. Better more encouragers than none. Don’t delay it as you might forget about it.
Do what you can and stop worrying about what you can’t. Often we can become paralysed by our insecure excuses and miss out on a valuable contribution. We all have something to offer. It will be different from others. Might not be much but its always significant.
Ask questions. Questions break the ice. Good questions can soften the embarrassment and open up hearts. Here are some good questions: can I help you with my time? My expertise? My connections? My money? Need a lift? Need food? Need washing clothes? Need a break? Need company?
Don’t drop it. Often there is a frenzy of attention in the early days followed by a gradual decrease of interest and involvement. It’s somehow natural. We all tire and move on. But just as we go through compassion fatigue, the suffering person and their carers can feel that in an even more intense and frustrating manner. Let’s not grow weary in doing good. Keep praying, checking and helping.