How to be unhelpful while trying to be helpful?
Dealing with Loss & Grief (Part 1)
Male Headship in the life of the Church
As a Parish there are a number of people and families facing some big challenges at the moment. It has been a joy to see the St Alban's family rally in love and support on a wide scale. The prayer meetings have been very encouraging and well attended, the food ministry has kicked into over drive and there has been a genuine outpouring of love amongst God's people. This is wonderful and it is part of what makes being in a Church family so meaningful. But if some of the situations before us continue well into the future with no quick solutions is it possible to be unhelpful whilst with the best of intentions we have tried to be helpful? The answer is 'yes'.
Because we all care and want to help it is quite natural to ask a family member or someone close to the situation, 'How is X doing?' This is fine - but when you are the 200th person to ask it can be very wearing for the people involved. This is not a criticism of anyone but it is often the reality for the people close to those who are unwell. Instead of asking a question - it might be more helpful to make a statement like, 'We are continuing to pray.' Or ask them, 'How are they doing?' rather than the sick person or 'Is there anything I can do to help YOU!' We rightly want to pray for and extend love to the sick person but their families carry a heavy load and we don't want to add to that burden. All I am suggesting is that we all think before we speak. For a number of the circumstances unfolding at the moment it is probably best to ask a staff member first before approaching the people in question unless you are a very close friend - and then by all means carry on as you normally would.
By all means don't stop showing Christian love to those facing challenges, but do think carefully about the best way to do that - before you act! Cards are always welcome - so are text messages so long as you don't expect a reply. Meals are often welcome but it is best if this is co-ordinated, so ring ahead or arrange a day in advance rather than just dropping it off because it suits you - it might not suit them.
I have been humbled and delighted to see the way the St Alban's family has responded in recent times but there is a long way to go and I mention these few things so that in the days ahead we keep it up but in ways that continue to be helpful. To God, be the Glory! Michael