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Empathy

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Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Extra

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Extra

At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”

As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Yielding

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Yielding

I am not a mountain. Today I yielded to the wind.

When I first went outside this morning the air was still and cool. A few hours later I went out again to go to a luncheon and the wind was blowing wildly and powerfully. I knew quickly I would need a jacket. The wind was powerful, forcing me to lean into it as I made my way to the truck. The cool wind made quick work out of my jacket and soon and felt as though it wasn’t even there.

A young man spoke with me a few days ago. He’s been having a rough time and he’s at a loss of knowing what to do. He’s not a mountain either. The winds have made quick work of the ways he protects himself and is blowing him around with no anchor to tether to.

As we talked I helped him separate what he could do with what he had to accept. We aren’t mountains. When the winds come billowing we can feel at the mercy of them and to an extent this is true. However, there’s almost always something we can do. We might feel weak compared to the power that’s blowing against us but this doesn’t mean we are powerless.

Firstly we accept the storm, the wind, the hardship and challenge they bring. We cannot stop the wind but accepting it, respecting it, allows us to stop trying to control it. We don’t have that kind of power. Secondly, in the stillness of acceptance, we discover what we can do and we act. We might not be able to do all we want but we do all we can. We can lean into the wind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mentoring

Mentoring

Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.

It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Getting Started

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This morning, while waiting for the Husky to do his business outside, I heard a voice and looked up to see a scruffy looking gentleman walking towards me. “Excuse me!” he said. “Can you help me start my truck?  The starter has gone bad and I need to bang on it while someone turns the key.” em> Where is your truck?” I asked. He pointed to the church parking lot next to our little house and I told him to let me put the dog up and I’d help.

Grabbing my phone and a ball-cap from inside I walked through the wet grass in my flip-flops. When I arrived at his truck he had a hammer in his hand and instructed me to walk around and turn the key when I heard him banging on the starter. I thought to myself; “This has all the makings of a horror story!”  I didn’t climb in the cab but reached over to grab the keys. He crawled underneath the truck and started banging! I figured that was my cue and turned the key. Once, twice, three times and more. No luck. The truck was just sat there. I took a few steps back and waited for further information. “OK!” he yelled, “Try it again!” I’m not sure what he did but the banging got louder, I turned the key and the truck roared to life. He scooted out from under the truck and walked around. I met him in front of it, shook his hand and wished him the best.

As I watched the truck drive away I thought about those who had helped me on my journey of life. Strangers, friends and family who tried to get me going as I messed around, not sure what I was doing, hoping just to make it a little further down the road. They didn’t turn me down, give up on me even when it seemed the prudent thing to do, stayed until things got started again. For these folks I am exceptionally grateful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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