Walking in Other Shoes

In early June we hit a deer on the interstate just south of Hwy 210.  Aside from the obvious results, the pressure used when braking caused my heel pad to rupture.  It is now six months later and the pain still has not gone away.  So my orthopedic has ordered me to keep off my foot as much as possible and walk with crutches (not on this ice) or a cane.  I am also not supposed to lift anything heavy, shovel snow, etc…  You might be thinking: “Well pastor, we feel sorry for you but what’s your point?”

The point is that during this time, I have experienced and learned many things I did not know before.  For instance, many people speak much louder to you when you use a cane.  Seriously folks, it’s my heel not my ear.  Some people go out of their way to be kind.  And I really appreciate it, especially those who ask.  Then there are those who help whether I want it or not.

I’ve seen both the good and bad sides of human nature.  In the same day, one person ran ahead to open the door for me while another ran ahead so he wouldn’t have to.  People have rushed to get into line in front of me so I would not slow them down!

The most frustrating thing is the waiting. There are many people who are more than willing to help.  So I call and then I wait.  And wait, and wait, and sometimes wait some more.  I know people have busy lives and really appreciate their help, but if I just did it myself I could have been finished by now.

All of this has helped me to better understand our elders, especially those who depend on others to help them.  They are educated, talented, wonderful people who need someone to come along side of them and ease their burden. Yet often they are spoken to and treated like toddlers. 

I get frustrated because I can do things but I must not.  So I have to wait.  What must it be like to not be able to do even the most basic things for yourself and have to wait until someone has the time to come and help you?  What must it do to a person’s self-esteem that first time they soil themselves waiting, only to be put into a diaper so when it happens again ….

Our elders need us.  They need people to help them with their most basic needs, but they also need people to help them live meaningful lives.  Arthritis often makes writing very painful.  How about offering to write cards and letters for your elderly neighbors or folks at the nursing home? Cataracts and various eye diseases rob the elderly of the joy of reading. Have you considered offering to read to someone?

In this highly mobile society our elders are often separated from their extended families.  Have them over for dinner or take them a meal and stay to enjoy it with them.  Give them an opportunity to talk and share their memories.  If they tell the same story more than once, enjoy it each time.  In his epistle, James writes: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

This has been a challenging season in my life but also a very rewarding one.  It is my hope that what I have shared will help you, dear readers, to reach out to the elders in your neighborhood, your church, your community. Your life will never be the same for it.

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