Rehabilitation: A New Perspective

In my last post, I spoke on the idea that we expect our lives to be pretty normal. For the most part, we run the race of life at our own pace and do not expect much deviation from the bell curve. But when an anomaly is thrown at us that affects us and causes us to leave a previous way of life and begin a new one, how are we supposed to respond?

One good example to look to is that of a patient striving for a new normal after a physical injury.

Let’s start by first recognizing what our normal is. Most of the people reading this blog will fall into this category; after all it is the most common. These people have the blessing of a well-functioning body. Sure, some things may not be perfect about it, but it will still get you through the day. Medical terminology defines this normal ability with two terms: activities of daily living (ADL’s) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s). ADL’s include simple things that you do every day: brushing your teeth, using the restroom and eating on your own. IADL’s are a bit more complex, they include preparing a meal or balancing a check book. Both of these terms define what it is we must be able to do on our own in order to fall into this “normal”.

For a good amount of people, the normal described above is not done with as much ease as a healthy person. This is because they themselves or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect, an accident, a disease, or something of that nature that prevents them from preforming any ADL’s or IADL’s. Not being able to perform these activities causes a dramatic change in anyone’s life. Making what is called a “new normal” or an adjustment that accounts for physical impairments, takes time, dependence, and learning.

In a way we all make new normals for ourselves throughout our life. Adjustments are made in life for differences, changes or anything that alters a previous routine.

From a medical team’s perspective, the goal for a patient with an impairment that affects these daily activities would be to get them back home and able to live as best as they can despite their circumstances. This is easier said than done. Someone who is paralyzed from the waist down, for example, faces many challenges that a normal person would not even have to think about. Most obviously they would not be able to walk, would have difficulty getting in and out of a car (and would need a different mechanism for using the gas and brakes), and would need to take into account the extra time it takes to move (or be moved) when planning for the day. Disabilities and risks that are not as obvious include possible medical complications such as the development of bed sores due to immobility, clotting in the legs and the fact that by being unaware of pain a paraplegic would not be alerted to an injury if one did occur.

While all of these obstacles differ from impairment to impairment, the road to rehabilitation, or restoration of ADL’s and IADL’s, is one that will be walked very intentionally. Planning, goals, and support will all be needed to assist a disabled person in reaching a new way of living an ordinary life. This tedious process is how we get back on our feet after a traumatic life event has occurred.

Goals given to those just recovering from a permanent injury need to be crafted to suit the individual. Different people have different potentials, and the same goes for those re-learning how to live life normally. Daily, weekly, and monthly goals are all made in consideration of what a certain patient may actually be able to attain. This is done to first and foremost get a person to their new normal and to realistically set up expectations so that there are encouraging results through the rehabilitation process.

The recovery process reaches far beyond a hospital stay and it remains for a lifetime. Every day of a new normal is something more difficult than what our previous normal life taught us. Although one may have gotten back up, the difficulty does not go away.

Even when we have not been physically affected with a debilitating injury, there are still things in life that will force us to find a new normal. Losing a mother, father, sibling, or friend will all drastically change our normal; starting a new job or going through a hardship will also change what normal looks like. Everyone faces this rehabilitation process–it will just present itself differently in different situations.

The lesson that medical rehabilitation teaches us is valuable to everyone. Rehabilitation takes time. We often want to see results immediately and are impatient to return to what was previously our normal. Respond to disaster in patience; make reasonable goals and eventually a new normal will begin and how long that new normal will last we don’t know.

Good Odds: Betting on Safety

I am in denial. I do not think that anything too terrible could actually happen to me.

I have spent hours in lectures about the human body and learning about all of the amazing abilities that it has. I have also heard of the numerous ways in which things can go wrong and harm a human. I do not want to think that anything could go wrong in me.

Terrible things do happen: a shooting, a distant relative that was diagnosed with cancer or an unfortunate car accident that was fatal. Though I may not say it to myself in all these words I am convinced that these things simply do not happen to me. It’s really a great type of coping mechanism.

Experience has taught me that I am usually safe in this world. When I am faced with a story of tragedy that is not applicable to my own experience, I assume that it could never happen to me. So here I am: completely aware of all of the worldly possibilities of sickness, crime and death, yet still unwilling to consider that these tragedies may one day infringe upon my life.

One time there was a shooting that happened in my home town. The city closed down all of the schools for one day and advised people to be wary of a criminal that was running loose. I was away from home when this happened, but the rest of my family was tucked away in my house. I knew that I should have been worried for them and scared for their safety, but for some reason I was not overcome by fear. The only explanation that I can think of is that in my mind I knew that this sort of thing, a thing like my family being murdered, just did not happen to me.

It is because of this that I can stand to sit through lectures on hemorrhagic strokes that happen to twenty year olds, study ways to prevent pulmonary embolisms, and know what to do in case of an unresponsive patient in cardiac arrest and still leave my classroom thinking that I am perfectly safe.

You do the same thing too. Even though you’ve heard of all of the possibilities and many ways that things in life can go wrong, you go home at the end of the day and think that you are perfectly safe. Even if one bad thing happens to you, the odds of it occurring again or something else affecting you negatively are still very low. If you get struck by lightning once, it is not any more likely that it will happen to you again.

We’ve learned to accept the odds of daily living and keep living life. It would in fact be more crippling to think that the odds were not in our favor. This mindset of denial helps us live a life that is, for the most part, one of a safe feeling.

Our denial is healthy to some extent. It keeps us from freezing amidst the stage of life and helps us to remember that we can live comfortably and not in the fear of something like immediate death.

But I’d like to contrast what I’ve been calling denial with another type of self-foolery. This one prevents us from living life even more than a phobia of worldly mishaps can.

It is that thought that nothing really great will ever happen to us. The odds of life being “normal” are really high too, right? We resign ourselves to the prospect of greatness and go home at the end of the day accepting that we live in the center of the bell curve.

I’ve heard stories of wonderful miracles: hospital patients who were expecting death magically healed, fantastic stories of the redemption and joyous moments of a tragedy overcome. In response to this I think that these things simply do not happen to me. Experience has taught me that life is what it is and that to expect something above and beyond the norm is unreasonable. So I stay in the boundaries that I have marked off for myself and do not hope in things that are too great to actually reach.

You think the same thing too. That the odds of something terribly wonderful happening to you are just too low to bank on. So we do not think about them and go on living a life that may not be as hopeful as it could.

In the end we do not have much control over the bad things that happen to us, especially since we do not expect them, but we do have more control over the good things that can happen to us. It is good to be comfortable in the great odds of our safety, but to be complacent in our averageness does not make for a very exciting life.

By expecting more out of ourselves and living in the hope that something wonderful could happen, something that we have the power to make happen, then we can begin to move the bell curve in the right direction.

Forming Genuine Friendships

Just admit it. You enjoy spending time with certain people and you avoid those who you don’t enjoy. You have friends, maybe even best friends, and you also have those lesser bonds that we call acquaintances or do not even bother to label at all.

Those who we call friends are the people that we enjoy being with the most and they too enjoy time with us. Together, friends care for each other, are understanding, and are also quick to forgive. We enjoy being with them because we are welcome to be ourselves when we are in their presence.

Since the above seems the case, I would venture to say that we avoid those who are not our friends because we simply do not feel welcome to be ourselves in their presence.

But sometimes it takes us a while to figure out who it is that we are comfortable with. A person that we initially see as a possible friend may turn out to be someone we cannot open up to, but we may still pursue that friendship without realizing it.

I often feel like I am in the middle of this tension with some of my friendships. I’ve seen someone that I desire to be better friends with and I pursue them by starting conversations with them or even setting dates to get to know each other more. But amidst all of the attempts at forming a comfortable friendship with someone I fail to see that I have never been myself with this person nor enjoyed all of the time that I have spent with them. On top of that, the sentiment that I have expressed may not be returned.

All of this factored together leaves me hanging onto some small hope of a friendship that will probably not turn into anything else than what it already is: A performance.

My initial desire to forge a friendship has caused me to so desperately want to impress my potential friend that I have forgotten to be myself. Yes, being friends with someone means that you enjoy their company and enjoy who they are, but it also means that you enjoy who you are.

I cannot enjoy myself if I am constantly performing.

When I forget to enjoy myself I prevent my friendship from developing further since I cannot be genuine and therefore cannot genuinely care for the other person.

It is the people that we do not at first anticipate pursuing a friendship with that we often become the most comfortable with because we do not set ourselves up for a performance.

These are the people that we may at first think are lame, not worth our time, or we don’t even remember meeting, but we soon find that these people are who we can really befriend. We’ve never tried to impress them or changed who we are for them and because of that we are not debilitated from forming that friendship.

The result is an unanticipated friendship in which both parties not only enjoy each other but also enjoy themselves when they are together. This allows them to be genuinely careful of the other.

This unplanned sincerity is what allows us to rejoice with our friends and also mourn with our friends in true sympathy. They are the people who we care for and care for us, and they’re probably in your life right now whether or not you know it.

So stop and look around.

Sometimes in my goals to make new friends and pursue new relationships I begin to think that the friends I already have are not good enough for me. Since many of my greatest friendships were unplanned and unexpected I forget that they are most times better than any friendship that I have by my own power tried to create.

In light of this new realization of how to enjoy one’s self and be genuine in their attitudes towards their true friends, we ought to realize that these friendships that we did not at first expect are the ones worth maintaining.

The beginnings of a friendship with a lot of potential have now become clear, but how do we maintain a friendship that we so passively began?

This is where being genuine comes more into play. Sincerity is what first allowed us to break down the wall between two people and it furthers a friendship to allow two people to both build each other up and tear each other down in a (hopefully) constructive way.

Friendships are not effortless to maintain, but by recognizing your own feelings within a relationship and remembering that with comfortable relationships comes genuine ones we can see who it is that will be a lifetime friend.

If we can be ourselves in a friendship, then we can also be much better friends.

Pain and the Possible Gain

It is often said “No Pain, no Gain.” But I’d like to propose that along with that saying comes the mindset that to feel pain is to feel weakness leaving the body. I have definitely seen variations of that idea written on the back of multiple sports player’s t-shirts and cringed every time.

So which is it? Can pain be dignifying or is it something that one must hide?

There’s an inherent problem with this saying. It glorifies pain as something that we ought to strive for because it will make us stronger. But there is another saying, and this one is not written out for us like the others. That saying goes something like this: “If you’re in pain, do not let anyone else know because it will show that you are weak. “

For starters, I’d like to classify what types of pain we will feel in life. Let’s start by splitting this up into two simple categories: good pain and bad pain.

Good pain is the pain that tears down in order to rebuild something stronger. A practical example of this is how our muscles work: it hurts to tear them when you work out, but once they are healed they have grown back stronger. This pain is something in which we can pride ourselves. Athletes even roar in pain as they finish races, communicating to others that they are in pain while showing that they are overcoming it.

This rebuilding pain also occurs not just physically: it can also be mental or emotional. Sometimes we must go through new experiences in life and learn new things. The pain of failure can break us down, but to overcome a failure makes one even more successful. What has been torn down is made into something even better.

This is a pain can be likened to that of Dante’s Purgatory; while it is painful for the individuals to climb up the mountain and be refined by the fire, the pain is worth the end. Being refined only makes them stronger and we see an aspect of redemption in this pain as they reach an end goal.

It is what I called bad pain that does not allow for this rebuilding. This is the type of pain that tears down and does not readily heal to any profit. It is that pain that is felt when you scrape your knee, lose a loved one or remain defeated by the troubles of life. It is a pain that can dwell with us for a very long time if we do not learn how to throw it off of ourselves.

When we are told that we ought to hide our pain, our loneliness, our depression or our losses, we learn to dwell in the pain rather than leave it behind. To remain in pain that does not refine is not beneficial; rather we can leave pain in the past by turning it into a pain that will help grow and rebuild us.

There is no entrance into the rebuilding until we learn to share our pain. For it is only by sharing that we are given a different perspective on our personal pain. In community we can find both remedy and empathy.

If we do not share our pain there is no way to find a remedy. In a hospital, if a surgery patient is in pain, that patient must communicate their pain to the nurse in order to receive relief. Only then can the patient receive a remedy–in this case a type of pain reliever. Only once that remedy is administered can the recovering patient feel better and even go through a proper pain that comes with exertion for something like physical therapy. But none of this would have happened if the patient remained silent and never communicated their pain.

By sharing a persistent and degenerative pain with someone else, it can be turned into a rebuilding pain that comes to an end.

There is remedy in the act of sharing. The sharing could lead to something as simple as immediate physical pain relief, or it could be the actual sharing of a painful experience that heals.

But like I said, it’s harder to share than we think. We do not feel that others will entertain our struggles or understand them.

So here’s the bright side for a Christian: they have God. God, who will always listen, always sympathize, and always offer a remedy. That is enough, but we are also meant to live in community. Members of the church are called to be that love, understanding and remedy to other members. We are to bear each other’s’ burdens.

Sometimes God alone is enough, but more often than not God will show himself through the community that He brings us to in a time of pain. This is the community where we can share pain, be uplifted by the stories of those who have gone before us and see from a different light that we too will make it through the pain and put it behind us. But we can only find those who can encourage and empathize by first sharing with them.

It is through sharing that the church can gather around a hurting member and know how to help them as best as they can on the path to restoration.

Rethinking Individuality: Family in A Tale of Two Cities

When my grandmother was growing up in a foster home she did not live the life that she imagined. She did not have nice clothes, nor did she have many friends because her speech impediment set her apart. She went through so much hardship that I could never understand. As a child reflecting on this, I did not understand how my grandmother could deal with her past, but it later dawned upon me that my grandmother was able to put aside the past by seeing her grandchildren live her dream life.

There is something strange about the attachment we have to our family; we hope for the best for those we currently reside with and for our future posterity to have better things. We hope for this even if it is at our own expense. Why did my grandmother unselfishly give me the last cookie from the cookie jar when she never even had that option as a child? Why did she care so much for my happiness as a child when she had none?

Charles Dickens portrays this family dynamic in A Tale of Two Cities in the character of Miss Pross, the caretaker of orphaned Lucie. Pross is described as “one of those unselfish creatures…who will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it.” This may at first glance seem like Miss Pross is living vicariously through Lucie, but I do not think that this is what Dickens means to say.

Pross desperately wants Lucie to marry a man who is fit for her and Pross claims that none of the suitors are “in the least degree worthy.” Mr. Lorry even goes to the length of calling Pross one of the lower Angles because of the “faithful service of the heart” that she exhibits toward Lucie.

There is this delicately crafted family relationship that Pross and Lucie share that can almost be likened to the relationship between a daughter and a mother; Pross wants the best for Lucie not for her own sake, but for Lucie’s sake. Pross wants the best for Lucie because she herself never had what was best.

Dickens furthers this value of family by contrasting the two cities of the novel: London and Paris. London, the home of Pross herself, is a stable city that maintains its value of family. Paris on the other hand is striving toward revolution and a new idea of the individual. There is no room for the family unit in Paris because the revolution and the making of this new society means an individual commitment to the goals of the revolution and nothing else. London has family values, while the revolution in Paris creates the values under which all individuals must adhere.

France’s destruction of family even goes as far as preventing the act of mourning. A family member of one who is killed by the guillotine may not mourn their death, but rather rejoice in it because it is following the values of the rebellion.

The Revolution takes away the power of what should be the strongest unit in a society.

When I worked as a staff member at a family camp this past summer, we were taught that we ought to value each individual in the family but also to remember that the family had one extra member: the family as a whole was a type of individual in itself because it was a unified body bonded together by its powerful relationship.

The family unit is bonded so tightly together by relationship that it is itself one unique and cohesive unit. When we look at Dickens’ portrayal of the French Revolution and its destruction of family we see that the rebellion is made up of a bunch of individuals, but not the strong unit of a family. The strong individual lies in the essence of a family.

It is for this unit that Pross travels to France to be with Lucie and her family. It is for these relationships that Mr. Lorry cares so many years. It is for this unified body that Sydney Carton dies.

And the funny thing is that all of the above mentioned characters are a part of that family. They do not stand for themselves alone when they make their sacrifices, but rather stand to protect the others who are a part of their individuality.

It is because of this that Carton will live even though he is dead. His individuality extends beyond just himself; it lies within the family unit that he has sought to preserve.

This powerful relationship that the family has also extends to the church member. As adopted sons and daughters of God, we are in the same family unit. The Apostle Paul even goes are far to say that we are members of the same body; we make up one individual. Somehow our membership in Christ has not only made us a united and cohesive family unit, but has made us into one person.

Dickens tries to explain this mystery of family as a singular unit and he does this by showing the love that the members have for each other. It is love that builds up and unifies, it is a love that sacrifices.

My Grandmother knows that her individuality does not lie within herself, but within her family. So too do Christians find their individuality when they look to the body that they are a part of, the unit that they have a family in.

When Church Becomes Class and Fails to be Family

College students move, a lot. You will never find them in the same place for a long, time unless they need to stay in the library for an all-nighter. Whether it’s moving to different dorm rooms each year, returning home for a semester, or changing colleges completely, it is acceptable for a college student to have no real ties that root them to one place in particular.

In this struggle to find some permanence during the inconsistency of a college experience, many Christian college students turn to the church. Ideally, this is a great way to create a family away from home and remain in a good community.

Church is meant to function as an intergenerational community, much like a family. The older generation validating the younger generation in a way that brings about care and love. These intergenerational relationships are the foundation for a healthy Christian community, ushering in the youth and respecting the passing of the old.

In my own church experience, this has been the case: my parents brought me to church as a child and were able to bring me to important relationships within my church. It was by my parents that I was given relationship with others in the church; my own family somehow gave me validity within my larger church family. Today at my home church I still have that relation with my parents and other members who are a generation older and now relationships with those younger than me. I am connected to the church by all of these generations and so feel connected.

But that membership has been lost since my move to college and I can’t seem to find it in any other church I attend.

Church for the college student who cannot seem to get plugged in has turned into a culture of church hopping and church shopping, but definitely not one of church staying. We are always moving, when church ought to be a place of rest and consistency.

Looking to my previous experience with church, it is easy to see why we struggle to become involved in a local church. If there is no family unit by which we are brought into a church, then the integration fails.

Some of the churches that my peers attend end up neglecting that intergenerational aspect, and church becomes more like an optional Bible class. The teaching is good, worship is great, and I get to go with my friends…but after the service I just go home and start doing homework again. I do not really stop to meet anyone else that attends the church, and no other attendees stop to say hello to me. It would be just as fulfilling for me to listen to a podcast from the church and get the same teaching.

Treating church as this fun Bible class is not how a college student ought to pursue “membership” within a church—it does not even seem like they are a member of a greater body when no community is formed. Both the college student and the greater church body have failed. They have failed because they have forgotten the foundation upon which a church community is founded: relationship between different generations.

So as a college student far from home with no family in sight, how does one go about actually becoming a member of a local church?

It starts by reaching out.

I would so much more appreciate it if the churches I went church shopping at an older member of the church had stopped to recognize I was a new attendee and said hello. But from my experience, that does not seem to be the case. Sure, maybe the first Sunday I attend a church no one will notice, but by the second or third Sunday I would hope someone might pursue fellowship with me, ask me how I enjoyed the sermon or how I might like to sit by them in the service next Sunday. Forming a relationship where I did not have to be the first person to reach out would show me that I was going to a church that valued its new members and wanted them to keep coming. Something simple that a church can do is notice young and lonely looking members and invite them to sit with a family. I know that this would make me feel at home in a new church.

But sometimes this is not the case, especially in a church with a lot of younger attendees who come alone and few older members who come with a family. In that case it’s time for the college student to just try to reach out to other younger members. It does not create the same intergenerational interactions, but it does begin the process of building relationships within a church and adopts more members into the local church community.

There is now reason to attend each Sunday (outside of teaching, which could be supplemented elsewhere) and people to look forward to seeing. The potential for becoming more involved sky rockets when you know someone who is in the know and can introduce you to others.

In light of this, let us members of Christ take initiative to act more like a church.

Nursing as Ministry: An Option Men Overlook

Quite a few of the young men that I know desire to go into ministry. This is, indeed, a great calling and I believe that God will work wonders through them whatever they do. But I highly doubt that any of these men ever considered making nursing a full time ministry.

I’ve only been in nursing school for a bit over a month and I’ve already washed the bodies of God’s beloved, listened to their concerns, and prayed for patients who I’ve known for less than six hours. If that’s not ministry, than I don’t know what is. So why is such a small percentage of my nursing class male?

There are a few things that come to mind when I first think of the word nurse. They are caregivers. They are the people who take your temperature, height, and weight when you first go in for a doctor’s appointment. They clean people. They replace bandages, they give out medicine and, they follow the orders of a doctor. They are also an advocate for their patients. This means that if something seems wrong, if something does not look right or is of concern, then the nurse is responsible for informing the doctor and getting the patient the help they need.

This is not to say that doctors or physical therapists do not have a responsibility for the patient as well, but it is to say that nurses interact with the patient the most frequently, and so have better knowledge of what it is that a patient needs.

One thing that a patient may need is spiritual care. Spiritual care can be something as simple as listening to a patient’s concerns, providing them with a nice warm blanket if they are cold, or bringing them a chaplain. Good spiritual care will meet a patient where they are and help comfort them or bring them peace. It does not necessitate religion.

For a Christian nurse, the hospital is not a ground for proselytizing but it is a ground for showing God’s love to others through caring and love. After all, Jesus healed those who were in need and His followers today still strive to treat others well and care for them. Action is the language of a nurse and any explicit conversation about Christianity will take place only if the nurse feels that the patient is in need of such care.

So this is where ministry comes in. People who worry about their illnesses need prayer, people fearful of death need prayer, and people who think God has abandoned them need prayer. Many of these people can be found in the hospital. What a great place to learn to minister to others.

The Church encourages men and women alike to go into ministry and men continue to lead ministries that bring others to Christ. So if The Church values men who lead traditional church ministries, it ought to value the men who work in nursing because that is a ministry as well. The Church might consider encouraging nursing as a vocation to a Christian man considering going into ministry,

The Christian Church can attest to seeing the care men can take in loving others and being a servant; let’s encourage more men to be nurses.

But do men want to be nurses?

Social stigma has painted a picture of the female nurse and given society the idea that men have nothing to offer to the role. Yet men can offer some things to nursing that woman cannot. They are naturally stronger than most women, providing for a strong hand when assisting patients in transfers and ambulation. Men also can be helpful in providing care for male patients who would rather be cared for by another male. Men can fulfill the role of a nurse and add their own utility to it.

The nurse’s stereotype is already starting to wear off, but it’s a slow process.

Today only a little bit less than 10% of nurses are male. Within nursing anesthetics, 41% of the occupation is male and they go home with an average annual salary of $162,900.

Nursing also has a need for leadership roles and men can find their way into those roles easily partly because men are generally seen as natural leaders. This would indeed be the perfect opportunity for a man looking for a leadership role in ministry as the mission for Christ would still be retained, but he would also be able to make a living.

Nursing can offer endless ministry opportunities, potential leadership positions, and a reasonable salary to men pursuing Christian ministry.

Serving God as a nurse is only one way that ministry can be developed, but it is a way where one is guaranteed to help the helpless, hold the restless, pray for the needy and be Jesus to someone who may have never seen him before.

What it Means to be an Elderly Christian

Youth lends itself to the good Christian life. We look good, we’re athletic and healthy, have our whole lives in front of us, and we love God. We are in control and independent, we need no help to make it through the day.

We are also really good at pretending the above is true.

Young people, myself included, want to do their best to appear independent. We are good at convincing others (and ourselves) that we are making do on our own, but we’re lonely. In our efforts to remain independent, we have forgotten how to be dependent on a community.

The elderly Christian understands community. They have spent a lifetime walking with God and this lifetime of experience has helped them see more clearly who they are and how they fit into a community.

An elderly Christian has spent a long time walking with Jesus. They have been shaped by their Christian relationship and see the results of God’s work in them. They can see who they are. They can see that they are broken, sinful, in need of a savior. They can also see that they are loved, redeemed and improving. By God’s grace this has all been revealed to them. By their age they have become more comfortable in it.

The proper response to this example is for the young Christian to remain in the Lord.  It will not work out perfectly every day, or even any day. But then again, it did not work out perfectly in the 75 year old Christian’s life, but God was still faithful and so he will be faithful to the 20 year old that desires to follow Him.

When we have a better understanding of who we are in Christ, we then have a better understanding of how we fit into the Christian community. It is then with this refined sense of self that a Christian community can grow. The more I know who I am, the more I am able to find my role within a community and the more I am able to rely upon others.

With this new found self-knowledge I can better see how I fit into the scheme of things. Just as one gear in a machine works to turn other gears and is also turned by surrounding gears, I find throughout life how I help others and how others help me.

The young Christian that tries so hard to appear independent often does this by being one the one that serves others. It is very difficult for a young Christian to be able to accept service from others because we think that we ought to be able to help ourselves and not need the help of others.

But an elderly Christian has lived with God long enough to know that community is what has gotten them this far in life. Their self-knowledge allows them to see that they do need help, but that they can also help others. This interdependence is what drives a community, and the elderly know how to utilize this the best.

So, to the young Christian who wants to serve, remember that you have the ability to help an elderly brother or sister in Christ. You can simply be of company to an elderly Christian, be a helping hand in the kitchen or a friend that takes them to doctor’s appointments. Many things can bring you to their aide, but remember to stay a bit longer. Listen and watch. The elderly have a lot that they can offer to young Christians, whether it be words of wisdom or examples of love, do not overlook the ways that they can serve you. After all, it is the elderly who has mastered this best of all of us Christians.

They do not see it as their fault if they need help, rather they rejoice when they receive the aide they need. And when they can help, they do so readily.

The young Christian can look to this example and learn to know when they need help and when it is they can help others. Over time this process will become easier and easier because as a young Christian walks with God and sees themselves more clearly they will see how it is that they serve others and are served.

The Christianity of a 75 year old is not much different than the 20 year old’s Christianity. The only difference is that the longer cultivated community is richer in love. As a twenty year old Christian then, strive toward that love that can only come from such a long walk with God. Start by remembering that the 20 year old’s Christian community is the same one as the 75 year old’s.