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Thoughts Post-Second-Visit

2 January 2009

Hola amigos!

Yes, dear friends, I finally had my second visit with the pastor.  I think I am really going to love this chaplaincy thing.  It’s right up my alley… though I am still a bit quiet with the meeting of new people, I suspect that anxiety will fade with time and experience.  If you read my last myspace post, you will recall that I unleashed some thoughts on judgment and what’s appropriate vs. what isn’t.  My conclusion is that it is not for human beings to judge anyone or anything.  That’s God’s job, leave it up to Him.  He can handle the burden that comes with it.  Follow the path that God has laid out for you, do your best to live up to the example that Jesus has left for us (knowing that we are imperfect at the same time) and let God sort out the rest.  I mentioned how concerned I felt about churches in which people feel judged from the first time they enter through the doors.  Sometimes, I think religious folks can take the religious aspect too far and begin to serve their own ego rather than serving God.  If you’ve learned anything from the Bible it’s that Jesus is all about love.  Seek to follow His example and you can do no wrong.  Keep in constant contact with God, love your fellow man, woman and child, and let God sort out the sins and the sinners (of which we all are).

I did not mean to go off on a tangent there… back to thoughts about my second visit.  This time, Ted, Dick and I went to see Rose and Charlie.  Rose has been in and out of the hospital with some kind of ailment the doctor’s can’t seem to get a handle on.  Before I went on the visit, I spent some time in prayer asking that God would give me the grace and patience to listen and only speak when I had something meaningful to contribute to the conversation.  The most important part of counseling and chaplaincy seems to be listening and as I am new to the whole gamut of the world of “ministry,” I find it smart to sit and take in the experience and focus on what everyone is saying.

These visits, though, I am learning, are more about really visiting with the people who need love and company in their times of hardship.  We generally begin by discussing the “how are you feeling” aspect of why we’re there–and we listen to the sadness and frustration of people who are dealing with often inexplicable illness.  Here’s where you need the empathy (of which I carry in abundance given my own circumstances) and you must be willing to “really hear” about how the person is.  It’s not a supercficial question when you are doing this type of work.  It’s not like when you run into someone at the grocery store and say, “Hi!  How are you?” when really you don’t necessarily want to know, it’s just something you say.  No, as a visiting chaplain, minister, lay-minister (or chaplain in training), you listen and you must want to know.  You must be prepared for honesty in all answers.  Sympathy, empathy, understanding.  These terms are not mutually exclusive.

We then just let the conversation take us where it will.  There really is no “usual” pattern to this, it depends on the person or people with whom we visit.  I have noticed, however, that it would be wise to read the local paper because the conversation often goes to whatever’s in the local news.  Good thing I read the paper that morning a bit while having cereal and chai or I’d have been a bit out of the loop.  I tend to focus on national news and shy away from the local papers because I get frustrated with local liberal-media bias.  I suppose, for the sake of my chaplaincy, I’ll have to at least read the headlines and know what’s happening in the local world.

I spoke up a few times, but, again, I was there to listen and experience–not to open my mouth and share meaningless drivel.  My prayer prior to the visit was that God would work through me to provide the proper words when needed and that He would give me (as I said above) grace and patience.  As I felt little push to speak up (Ted and Dick have got that part under control), I knew that God meant for me to listen–to really listen.  So that’s what I did.

I wasn’t asked to share my “story” this visit.  That was fine by me because, I left out some important parts of that story the first time around (Annie, my illness, and how those two MAJOR factors contributed to my decision and call from God).  I’m working on getting all of that down on paper, not to “rehearse” before a visit (because I feel it should come from my lips to their ears naturally) but more to just remind me of what’s important to divulge to those with whom I visit.

All in all, the visit was a success.  Another experience upon which I can build my own chaplaincy work.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I wanted to add one more thought here that isn’t really related to this visit (hence the dividing line up there).  I’ve been puzzled by a question lately–it’s really been nagging at my mind and giving me headaches as I try to figure out what exactly it means to be a Christian and who, exactly will go to Heaven.  I suspect that further prayer and Bible study will lead me in the proper direction, but I still want to raise the question here so that you, my faithful readers, may provide me with your own thoughts and insights:

If Christians believe that Jesus is the way to God and thereby the way into Heaven (as I do), what about the masses in third-world countries who never, in their lives, hear about Jesus and/or are never presented with the Bible and God’s word?  What of their souls?

I don’t know if anyone has that difinitive answer, but it’s been nipping at my heart and soul these last few days.  Perhaps the answer is in my Bible and I’ve just not recognized or found it yet.  In any event, it’s a good question.  I encourage you to share your thoughts.  You can also e-mail me at jmtownsley@gmail.com should you not wish to do the whole comment thing.  I prefer the comments, however because it encourages discussion.

That’s all for now, friends.  God bless and ASAP.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Emma permalink
    3 January 2009 9:22 am

    Hello Miss Jessica! I’m trying to keep up with your journal here to see what you’re up to! I have an addition to your question that I’ve always wondered about – what about any of the gazillion people who lived prior to 2009 years ago, before Christianity even existed? Are they grandfathered in? 😉 It’s all very puzzling. I’ll be reading to see if you find any answers! Take care!

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