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The Call to Care

January 10, 2012

Today's post comes from Concordia Chaplain Rev. Roger Nuerge. Concordia has an excellent Chaplaincy Department that actively contributes to our patients' and residents' spritual well being. Thanks Rev. Nuerge!

Have you ever felt the call to care? Maybe someone you know is going through a really rough time with health or family or financial or other problems that bring them to an emotional crisis, and you think you ought to do something to help, but what?

How do you relate to someone who is hurting or suffering? What do you say? What if you say the wrong thing? You don't want to make them feel worse than they already do. So, even though you want to help, and even though you might hear the call to care, you hesitate, and many times you don't do anything because you don't want to make things worse. Doing and saying nothing seems better than doing or saying something wrong.

Does that sound like you? If so, you are not alone. Taking the risk to care for someone who is hurting or suffering can be daunting. No one intentionally tries to make people feel worse by saying, "Today I'm going to add to my friend Charlie's pain by making some insensitive remarks about his dying wife." Or, "Today I am going to add to Ann's suffering by being inappropriately cheerful during my visit with her." We are afraid we will do or say something harmful, even though our intentions might be very good. We want to do and say the right things.

But that can be really challenging. In his book "Don't Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart," Dr. Kenneth Haugk offers a list of challenges we all encounter when trying to care for a hurting or suffering person. Some of the challenges listed are:

  • Knowing what to say to a hurting person
  • Talking too much, listening too little
  • Having a "fix-it" mentality
  • Feeling uncomfortable in the face of another person's pain
  • Wanting people to "get over it"
  • Avoiding painful subjects
  • Giving advice, being too directive
  • Being judgmental
  • Feeling helpless
  • Wanting to hear only the positive

In the face of these and other challenges, Dr. Haugk says there really are things you can say and do that are helpful and not harmful. Through effective caring, as well as relating to others' hurting and suffering, people can experience being cared for and even have their hearts lightened a bit. In future additions on this blog I will share with you some of the insights that Dr. Haugk presents in this book. I pray it will be a blessing to you as it has been for many others.

For more information on the spiritual care services offered at Concordia, visit us on the web, e-mail here or call us at 724.352.1571.

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