The writing prompt question for this month’s blog post is an interesting one. It asks, “In what way do your writing, speaking, music, publishing and/or other ministries bring hope and redemption to others?”
I have spent a lot of my ministry or work years with people who are grieving a loss, seriously ill and those who are dying. I call them my teachers. I now include them in my writing. I believe I’ve written about them in this blog before.
I protect the privacy of my teachers by being cautious with how I write about my experiences with them. If I use names they are fictitious. I may also combine their stories with others or summarize them.
For the most part my teachers are like me, ordinary people. Like me they are not world famous and they seem to be content with that. They had childhoods, attended school, grew up, worked, raised families and some reached a retirement stage in life. In time their health was compromised and life experienced a major adjustment.
As my teachers came to trust me I was allowed into their lives to hear their stories. Their stories are real. They are stories glowing with pride as they talk about their families. They are stories of remorse as they mention regrets. Stories that include the stinging pain of loved ones no longer with us. My teachers remind me through their stories that life is precious and is to be savored.
My approach when serving people is to come as an ambassador of God’s love. I have always given my teachers a piece of my heart. To approach them as if I want to fix them would come short of showing compassion. My teachers have primarily been people who are broken in some way. I come alongside them as one also broken, yet living in hope.
I summarize my writing and work/ministry by one simple phrase. My phrase is “Touched by grief and held by hope.” It identifies me with other broken people. I have experienced grief. I live embraced by hope. This phrase found me after years of coming alongside people and listening to them.
Listening to hurting people is an act of healing that brings hope. I don’t mean it cures them from their suffering. It allows them to know someone cares about the pain in their hearts. Through the years a number of my teachers have said, “thank you for listening.” That “thank you” is a beautiful expression from someone perhaps lonely or held captive by suffering.
I cannot think about my teachers without being emotional. They taught me how to be present, to truly listen without the need to speak. I tell myself if I don’t listen to people, I don’t have the right to speak into their lives.
Do you have teachers in your life? Who are they? Relish them. Hold them close to your hopeful heart. Let them know how much you appreciate and love them. They will accept this with grace.
Beware of taking your teachers for granted. Realize that they may not always be with you. Treasure your time with them. These are the people who make the world a better place. Be one of them. That will be your greatest gift to them.