Your Presence Is Requested – 2011 Reflections

As I reflect upon this past year through the storms of parenting a 17-year-old son with significant co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as a possible spectrum disorder, I am reminded of the great gift of human presence in my life. In my darkest moments of despair, grief, and pain, it was the physical presence of others who became Jesus with flesh on that comforted and encouraged me by just being there, often in times of great silence. His light shines brightest in the darkest of night, carried by those who are willing to come alongside others in their complete and utter brokenness.

This year my personal life has been wrought with explosive behaviors, high-risk activities, residential treatments, school plans, and legal and financial woes. The presence of others provided a level of care that not even the best written Hallmark card, bouquet of flowers, or home-cooked casserole could come close to. I thank God for those people who entered into my darkest of nights to feel my pain, agony, and brokenness and took that on with me, those who sat with me, wept with me, laughed with me, and just sat with me, who refused to give up on me even with my efforts to retreat inward and put up walls of isolation. 

As a ministry leader, I recognize the importance of programming and ministry outreach initiatives; however, no program replaces the need for one-on-one care for the brokenhearted and downtrodden. It is easy to become focused on rolling out and running exceptional programming for God and yet miss the many opportunities to be a blessing in the lives of those who are hurting because we are just too darn busy.  It is easy to put programming in front of people.  We oftentimes wish we would not be inconvenienced by those in need, as our to-do lists run a mile long. 

This year will be different for me, as my personal suffering unleashed an empathy I do not believe I had yet felt or fully understood for those I serve in the ministry.  Someone once said our capacity to love is only as great as our capacity to feel pain.  Experiencing true brokenness puts us more in tune with the suffering of others, whether that be the loss of a loved one, grieving the loss of a dream, disunity in a relationship, or financial crisis.  Making ourselves available and being present, showing up with and spending time with someone in need, sends the message “I care; you are not alone.” We are His messengers of love and hope. 

God’s Word commands us to care for those in need, to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15 NIV). Because we have been comforted by God in our trouble, we are to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-4). 

As I pray for God’s wisdom and direction for Access Ministry and our programming, I also pray my year of brokenness would not be wasted and would be used to better care for others by being more intentional to be present with them in the midst of their storms. I realize I may be inconvenienced, uncomfortable, and not know what to say or do—but God does.

Yes, my presence and your presence are requested the world full of pain in which we live. We are called to bear witness and love in the face of suffering. As we make ourselves present to those in need, Christ will be there as well. 

“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NLT)

One Comment

  1. Hi Jackie,

    Thanks for sharing so authentically. What a great example of what Paul and James spoke of in the NT when they discussed the process in which suffering leads to perseverance and eventually, joy in the hearts of Christ-followers.

    If you ever need to bounce anything off “outsiders” who deal with these challenges on a daily basis as either parents or professionals (in some instances, both), feel free to get in touch with my crew at KM. We’ll make a point of praying for you at our team this week.

    Keep us posted as God uses your trials to bless others!

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