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Post-First Visit…

11 November 2008

Purposely, I waited until today to write a blog about my experience yesterday on my first in-home visit with members of The Bridge UMC church.  I wanted time to reflect on it a bit and pray before I sat down to write it all down.  I still think there will be much prayer and thoughtfulness about this in the days to come.  I will share with you a few thoughts, however, today.  Don’t expect too much eloquence!

Yesterday at around 1:30p, I met up with Pastor Ted and Lay Minister Dick at the church and hopped in the back of Ted’s van and off we went to meet with Howard and Nancy.  All at once I felt like a bundle of nerves and a complete calm and confidence in what I would be venturing to do.  On the way to their home, Ted, Dick and I talked about “my story” (how I came to decide to serve God) and a little bit about how I planned on getting to my destination (become a chaplain or pastoral counselor).  There were a lot of questions coming from the front of the van, but I felt comfortable answering them as they were simply questions about my journey.  Dick shared his story with me, as well.  They also prepped me a bit for what I was going to encounter upon these visits.  I was briefed on the situation with Howard and Nancy and how the visit would go.

The first rule was simple: Listen.  If you ask someone “How are you?” you’d better be prepared to listen to whatever the answer entails.  It made me think of how often we, as people, just say, “How’s it going?”  But do we really want to know how they are?  Do we want an honest answer?  Do we just want to hear, “OK,” or “Good,” or some commonly used platitude?

When we finally arrived at Howard and Nancy’s, I felt an eerie calm settle over me.  The ease inside with which I walked toward the door struck me as something uncommon.  I wasn’t anxious any longer.  This is unprecedented in my world.  I am most always nervous upon meeting new people.  I don’t know to what I should attribute that feeling – other than to say that God was certainly working in me even as we walked up to the door to their house and stepped inside to be greeted by these two wonderful people.  In the van, Pastor Ted and Dick told me that I didn’t have to worry about “what to say,” that God would give me the words.  And truthfully, other than sharing some personal anecdotes, I didn’t say all that much through the visit that was particularly eloquent or insightful.   But, you understand, we weren’t there for that.  Howard and Nancy wanted our company and just to laugh and share stories and generally visit.

I expected a lot of prayer, for some reason.  In fact, there was only one prayer, at the end of the visit, in which we gathered in a circle and held hands and Ted prayed aloud as we all concentrated on listening to him and to God.  I held Howard’s hand and Ted’s.  I was immediately struck by how cold Howard’s hand was and my heart and soul wept a little bit as I worried for him and prayed intensely for a God’s intervention to heal Howard’s cancer.  Of course, we don’t know God’s will in this, so who’s to say what God will do or won’t do.  We know God has the power to do what He wants to do and that ultimately, His plan will be carried out.  We can pray and hope and enjoy the time we all have here in this world and still look forward to The Next.

I have more on this visit to discuss – about Howard’s trophy room (he’s been quite the world-traveler and hunter) and about how Nancy somehow reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in how she carried herself and how she looked slightly Audrey-like (I have to think that it is NO mistake that we visited this couple on my first visit).  When we left, after about an hour, I learned the second rule of visiting people who are ailing.  Respect their time and don’t wear them out.  If anyone can understand the value of rest in the sick, it is me.  Twelve years with chronic illness teaches you that no matter how much you might want to visit with people, you have to rest, too.  Each “rule” I learn makes unbelievably good sense and just reminds me of how spending time with folks in the spirit of God and good is all about just being sincere.  Listening is KEY.  And I can do that.  I can listen.  And God knows, as do my family and friends, that I am nothing if not sincere and honest.  God’s certainly blessed me in those three areas.

As I reflect on this visit, this first experience of a part of what chaplains and pastoral counselors do, I am awe struck by how right it feels.  I can’t help believing that this is what I am supposed to do.  I still feel a bit awkward with people because, well, I’m a bit of a clumsy gal, as you all know.  But my visits and success aren’t dependent on me, ultimately.  I have to trust that God will lead me down the correct path.  I have to stay aware and vigilant – if God has opened doors for me, I pray that I will see them and have the courage and grace to walk or plow through them.

I’m still searching for a good study Bible – I looked through the selection at B&N yesterday and wasn’t impressed… none of them felt “right” for what I want to do.  Ultimately, I will find the right one to “dive” into.  You know what’s odd?  I can’t wait for Sunday.  I can’t wait to go to church on Sunday.  I’ve never really felt like that before.  I usually look forward to Sundays because Aaron’s weekend starts that day.  Now I have MANY more reasons to look forward to that day of the week.

Pastor Ted and Dick will be contacting me to meet with them again and for more visits in the near future.  I’m very much looking forward to it.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week and enjoying the sunshine on this Veteran’s Day.  God bless all those who bravely serve or have served this country in honor and valour.  And God be with their families as well.

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

ASAP, my friends.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. chrisb permalink
    11 November 2008 2:55 pm

    SO glad your first visit went so well. It is neat to hear how calm and natural it felt for you to be there, listening and learning. I really think you were meant for this. Sounds like a great start.

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