“A sense of isolation enfolds me like a cold mist as I sit alone and wait at life’s shut gate. Beyond there is light, and music, and sweet companionship, but I may not enter.” — Helen Keller
LINE OF COMMUNICATION
Everybody wants to be known and to be understood. The only way for this to happen is to have a clear, open and ongoing line of communication.
Helen Keller as a child was blind, deaf and mute. All of her lines of communicating were cut off until Anne Sullivan, her teacher, changed her life. She proceeded to reach into Helen’s isolated world and develop a line of communication with her. Initially it was not easy for either of them. With Anne’s persistence, patience and investment in Helen’s life communication became possible. She was no longer cut off from the world outside herself.
We are surrounded by people who feel oppressed because of their difficulty in communicating their need for help. This may be because they fear being judged, shunned or rejected if they open up. It also may be because they find it hard to put their pain and struggles into words. We need to be sensitive to and patient with those who struggle and reach out to them and take the initiative to be available to listen, care and respond. They need someone who will be committed to making every attempt to opening up a clear, ongoing and consistent line of communication. It may not be easy but it will be worth the effort and investment.
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” ~ I Corinthians 13:1 (MSG)
Reflections on LINE OF COMMUNICATION
I have heard it said that God gave us two ears and just one mouth for a reason…we should listen more than we talk! If only that were true in real life, we could become much more sensitive to the needs of others. We get so wrapped up in the Urgent and tend to miss the Important. When our schedule is full from daylight until dark with activities and commitments, then we feel pressured and rushed and that stress simply desensitizes us.
One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement. It is incredibly fulfilling to be able to share verses from God’s Word and my own experiences of God’s faithfulness during trying times with someone who is struggling in a hard life situation. However, if I don’t watch out, my schedule gets so full of work, activities and errands, that I go rushing from task to task like a bee who flutters from flower to flower trying to get all the nectar he can. He doesn’t stay in the flower long enough to even notice the color or texture. He is just after the “good stuff” that satisfies his own desires.
I can be like that too. I can have my schedule…my agenda…and miss the people God has placed in my path. The sad fact is that this busyness can happen in ministry as well. When we are so focused on ministry activities and schedules and our lesson plans that we prepared to teach during Bible Study time, we can miss the opportunity for real ministry. Real ministry is where we help others meet God face to face in the midst of their need. Sharing Scripture is vital to real ministry, but so is face to face time where we listen and try to understand what their real struggle is all about. Our pastor has often quoted, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
After our son Calvin died in a car accident, I cannot tell you how many people quoted Romans 8:28 to me. I knew the verse. I had memorized it long before he died and I actually meditated on it quite often after he died. However, I did not want multiple people just “dropping off that verse” into my life in a “fly by versing” as they went on their merry way and left me wallowing in the misery of deep grief and natural depression that results from a sudden and deep loss. I needed someone to hug me, someone to cry with me, someone to just stop by to say “I was thinking about you.”
I have never been a “flower” person in the sense that I have never really desired for people to bring me flowers. It seemed a waste of money to me…they are just going to die in a few days. I often took flowers to people who truly enjoyed them but, until Calvin died, I didn’t want anyone to bring flowers to me. After he died, people who did not know me well would sometimes send me flowers on his birthday or Mother’s day or the anniversary of his death. Those flowers said, in a tangible way, “I am thinking about you and praying for you and I just wanted to remind you that you are not all alone.” They took on a whole new meaning to me because they were a visible expression that someone had cared enough to take the time (and money) to show me they cared about me.
We need to bring people spiritual “flowers.” We don’t have to spend money. We just need to do something that says “I’m thinking of you and I care about you.” The what we do is not as important as doing something. Sometimes we think it has to be elaborate or unique. In reality, it just needs to BE. When prompted by the Holy Spirit, we need to take action promptly. I truly believe that if we all listened and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, no one would ever feel lonely or isolated.
Prayer for the hurting person:
Reach into the soul and heart of this hurting brother or sister and help them know how much You care about them as an individual. When they cannot seem to express their needs to others, give them word pictures to paint their emotions and struggles so that others can reach into their hurts and minister to them in meaning-ful ways. Give them people like Annie Sullivan who communicate with the language of unconditional love so that they can be understood, even when their words don’t make sense. Help them to trust Romans 8:26-27 that even Your Holy Spirit is interceding for them without words at Your throne of grace.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Please help me to listen as You read between the lines in the lives of the hurting people that You are bringing across my path each and every day. May I be open about my own daily battles and accepting of the spiritual struggles of others. Help me remember Matthew 7:1 to not judge but to let You handle judging others and help me to be an instrument of compassion and kindness instead.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.