Tag: pain (page 2 of 2)

5 Questions About… helping people in pain

The next in our “5 Questions About…” series!! Patty McGeever is my best friend from college.  When John met her he said, “I can sure see why you guys are friends!”  She’s fun and funny and compassionate and wise, and has all-together the best laugh ever.  She has been on an amazing life-journey where God has been using her to come alongside people in pain, or resource people helping others in pain around the world.  This picture was taken this May when our paths crossed in London.  She had just come from Nigeria and was on her way to Turkey and then Azerbaijan. Crazy, eh? 
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You have a background in counseling and social work.  How did you discover that God had given you gifts in this area? 

I didn’t discover this. My father was the one who recognized this for me.  He was diagnosed with cancer when I was 16 and treated for 9 years at MD Anderson in Houston, TX.  During that time, he got to know 2 Social Workers and shared with me that he thought I would like their job.  As I began studying this in college, it was the one subject that I made good grades in without a lot of work.

Upon graduation as I sought where God might want me to work I read:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Suddenly, it was like all the pieces of the puzzle were put together.  This was a job I could do well and God had created me this way because He knew the path my life would take. He had equipped me in ways I had not realized.  

2.  Can you share a story of a time when God used you beyond how you felt you were capable?

Always.  

But you asked for one.  

My family and I had moved to Papua New Guinea to serve with a nonprofit organization there.  I was a counselor in a community of over 300 ex-pat workers from over 14 different countries.  The students had gone on their annual retreat.  Early one morning, I received a phone call informing me that a 17-year-old girl had been gang raped by 3 Papua New Guinea men.  A helicopter would be bringing her back to our compound and I was to meet her with our doctor at the clinic. 

I was overwhelmed.  How could I help this young woman, her family and the youth on the retreat and then the entire community who would know that this event had taken place?  

I had not received any training that would prepare me for this type of scenario.  But I was the counselor there. I had to cling to God to provide the words I did not have. 

In looking back, I realize that God could have picked someone else who had experience in this but He didn’t.  He picked me with all my weaknesses.  He must have His reasons for doing that and I just need to show up.

3. What’s one lesson you’ve learned over the years about helping people in pain?

Bad things happen to good people. So much of the time I encounter well-meaning, really wonderful people who are experiencing really challenging things. There isn’t an easy explanation for this either.  Somehow telling people that ‘in all things God works for the good to those who love him’ just wasn’t helpful or appropriate.  The truth is that so much of the time the good seems very far away.  I had to learn to trust God even when I didn’t understand why things were happening in a certain way.

4. Even those of us who don’t have specific gifts in this area want to help friends who are hurting.  What are some mistakes you see people making?

People try to fix the other person’s problem when most of the time the best thing we can do for a friend is listen.  

People worry about saying the ‘right’ thing. Often there isn’t anything to be said. The best thing you can do is be there and stop thinking about you.

5. What advice do you have for those walking alongside others in crisis?

  • Listen, listen, listen.  
  • Ask questions to help them continue to tell their story… like ‘what happened, what was the hardest part for you, or what else happened’?
  • Don’t make judgments.  No one needs to hear that they are doing something wrong in the midst of their crisis.  
  • The process of telling their story will bring healing.  

Additional resources Patty recommends:

5 Questions About…Disappointment with God

Conrad family-40Emily and her husband Steve are dear friends of ours. I had the delight of working with Steve in ministry and traveling with him in Congo before he knew Emily.  Then, John and I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony together!  This remarkable young couple inspire me with their faith and authenticity.  It’s an honor to walk alongside them on their journey!  I asked Emily 5 Questionsbecause I knew she’d be honest and reflect from a heart seeking God.

1.  Over the past year and a half you’ve had an experience that has been deeply painful and disappointing.  Can you describe what happened?

In early 2013, my husband and I got the green light to travel to Congo to meet and pick up the little girl and little boy that we were in the process of adopting. We had spent 13 months previously preparing our home and our family for the addition of 2 more little ones, a little girl 18 months old and a boy 2 ½ years old. Although we knew it would be crazy to have 4 little kids in our home, we felt that adoption was always supposed to be a part of our family’s story and felt that it was a desire that God had placed in our hearts.

We had been prepared for the fact that the little boy we were adopting might be a little older than what we had originally been told, perhaps 6-9 months, however, when we met him in Congo he was clearly at least 6 ½ and was a very angry, emotionally fraught child, quite prone to physically aggressive outbursts. Continue reading

Among the Ruins

qtThis is my view outside Latimer house where we’re staying while husband John is in meetings.  I know!  Pretty wonderful!  It looks a little like Downton Abbey but with trees around it, on a hill overlooking the Chess Valley in England.

Earlier I was in the library, but it is an unusually beautiful spring day and the English countryside kept whispering to me to come outside.

library

All that to say, I’m feeling very British-y.  Our cab driver in London actually said “Cheers, mate!” with a straight face.  I didn’t know that was an actual thing.

Yesterday we walked Oxford and now I’m longing to go back and re-read everything C.S. Lewis wrote.

view from church

I came across a quote from Lewis that really sums up what I’ve experienced over the past few weeks.

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”

Continue reading

After Easter

Good morning!  So many of you are new to this blog that I decided to re-post an offering from last year about this time.  I pray it is encouraging to you today!

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused... Continue reading

Putting us Back Together

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend who is fighting a hard battle.  She looks fragile, but she is scrappy.

Prayerful.

And resolved.

She is grieving loss and pain and trauma, but also celebrating the simple fact that she is alive.  And alive is good.

Alive is something. Continue reading

“That” Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

Continue reading

“That” Person

I’m taking a little August sabbatical, so I’m reposting some entries that you’ve seemed to like from awhile back.  If you’re newer to the blog and know others who might be encouraged, I’d love it if you’d pass along the link.  

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

Continue reading

When You Can’t Say the Right Thing

It’s been a season of pain for people all around me.

Death, and cancer, and betrayal.

My reactions may be similar to yours:

  • I cannot imagine how I would deal with such tragedies if I were in their place.
  • I am heartbroken.  Overwhelmed with grief for them.
  • I don’t want to “go there”.  I hide in my busyness.  I don’t want to dive into the wreckage of my friends’ pain because I can’t fix it.
  • I feel desperately awkward because I don’t know what to say that could possibly help.
When something bad happens, people (and by people I mean me) often say the “wrong” thing.  We want to comfort, but our heads are filled with words we’ve been told we shouldn’t say, like “I know how you feel.”  
So our default mode is to say… nothing.
Last year I heard Cory Booker speak.  He’s the mayor of Newark and faces issues of overwhelming violence, poverty, and drugs daily.  He cares deeply and is striving for ways to bring health and healing to his city.

He shared that one day he walked home to his apartment in a low-income area of the city, extremely discouraged.  He was faced with complex problems and he didn’t know what to do. Continue reading

That Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

Broken, broken, broken.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Romans 12:18

You’ve tried the Elmer’s glue of apologies, and prayer, and grace to mend things but they’re still unmoved.  Unresponsive.  They still don’t like you.  Or they don’t like Jesus.  Or they don’t like either of you.

Here’s my advice.  To myself.  And you if you want to try it.  A spiritual practice if you will.

Give up.  Give them up.  Give yourself up.

Hand them over.

Let go.

And breathe.

Breathe in.  “Abba Father.”

Breathe out.  “Do what only You can do…”

Heal.  Restore.  Illumine.  Woo.  Correct.

Give up.  Over and over again.

Who’s “that person” for you?  Who do you need to hand over?

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