Monday, September 4, 2017

The Slow-Go Can Go

As one who is approaching the Slow-Go category, the need to see how this group of people can continue to feel valuable grows ever more important. Even procrastination can be an excuse for slowing down and not being involved as might be possible.

As followers of Jesus Christ we should seek as many ways as possible to enhance the value of each person that will show God still considers them of value, and they are able to be a meaningful part of his Kingdom. If our imagination keeps forcing these folks back into old ways no longer reasonable, then we need the imagination of others to show them new activities to explore.

Modern technology has helped many overcome what was once physically debilitating. New avenues of mission work allow old skills to be enjoyed by more people. Communication methods allowing worldwide contact have created the opportunity for a Slow-Go in one country to be in contact with others with similar limitations half a world away.

Consider these ideas as you help a Slow-Go friend or relative get a fresh start in life. Some involve travel outside the home. Remember, a Slow-Go individual should never be seen as homebound. That may come soon enough. Seek to provide as many opportunities to get out of their residence and associate with others as possible. Other opportunities for service can be accomplished at home.

Being an active prayer warrior is never a function of mobility. While at home the Slow-Go individual can provide prayer support for the congregation in the same way the Can’t-Go individual does. As a prayer warrior the individual can be assigned a specific group of people to hold in prayer such as a list being served by a deacon or elder. The prayer list can also include church members away from home such as students, those serving in the military, and specific missionaries working on home and foreign fields.

From home, ministry can be performed by use of the telephone through contacting absentees from Bible study groups or ministry programs. A Slow-Go can be the contact person for the homebound individual living in their own home or in a support facility. The telephone allows the relationship between church and college student to be maintained. The Slow-Go doesn’t have to be a family member. A voice from the church family back home can make a world of difference to the college student or military personnel who may be thousands of miles away. When a phone call needs a little extra emphasis, the written letter and card can add that little extra bit of love.

With transportation available, other possibilities for service open up. The Slow-Go can be a part of local mission projects. It might even be that products made at home can then be delivered on a local basis, or become part of a major project sent elsewhere. Visitation to those who cannot get out is a proven blessing to all.

Leadership can be provided in local Bible study, mission action, or community focused groups. The church office may sometimes needs someone to handle reception or phone calls for a brief time. A Slow-Go can offer past experience and a love of service at such a time when a volunteer is needed.

As I have learned from experience, an older person can learn to appreciate instead of fear the digital age. Social media is a blessing when used appropriately. A Slow-Go can learn how to manage web sites, facebook and similar social media outlets, and through them communicate with the world either personally or in the name of the congregation. Help a Slow-Go individual learn the new tricks of our century and you will give them reason to face each day with a smile on their face.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Little Patience, Please

There are many among us who would love to be able to do what they did many years ago in the prime of their life. Age and general weaknesses have left them able to do only a fraction of what former health allowed. They have less physical movement and that is accomplished at a slower pace. They try to get around overcoming as much of their limitations as possible. All they ask is some assistance and a lot of patience.

The “slow-go” individuals face the frustration of remembering what they have been able to do, but now must adjust to a different lifestyle. In many cases the desire to be involved remains, and their mental capacity says things really haven’t changed all that much.

Then they have to get up on a cool, damp morning and their joints simply don’t want to cooperate. Muscles have stiffened overnight, and that cane or walker reminds them they have to move slowly even around their kitchen and living room. They refuse to give up and give in to the aches and pains that are a part of their daily existence. Their speed and stability while walking, however, reveal time has taken its toll and adjustments have to be made.

Yet these too are a part of our human family. They too deserve to be given respect and the opportunity to contribute to their world as well as receive from it. How do we as fellow pilgrims on this journey through life in general and as members of the family of God with Jesus Christ as our Lord live out the mandate we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper? To show the honor every human being deserves, we must be willing not only to give into their lives, but we must also be willing to provide ways we can receive from them that will give them a sense of personal satisfaction.

In many ways similar to the “can’t go” individual, the slow go person will need to contribute in ways that use the mind and spirit more than physical motion. This does not mean, however, these individuals cannot contribute in social settings that is rewarding to all. In the solo setting, these individuals can also be great prayer warriors for the family of faith. Allow them the opportunity to use a regularly updated prayer list to support the spiritual efforts of their church. “Slow go” individuals may also be the best individuals to call those who are homebound and not able to get out. This keeps both groups in contact with other people in a way that exercises social skills and mental processes.

Many of these people have hand skills which can be used at home or in group settings that will benefit others. With transportation provided to a central location, they are able to participate in a social setting and produce items that provide a sense of personal accomplishment and benefit others at the same time. For most of these people there has been minimal loss of mental faculties. Their memories can be a wealth of information and inspiration for those who will take time to listen and record their words for others.

The man and woman in our circles of friends and acquaintances who are not restricted to their residence and yet cannot quite keep up with the crowd have still much to offer our society. If we must slow down a bit to keep them involved, we may discover we are all the better for it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

If You Can’t Go One Way, Go Another!

The special group among older adults known as “Can’t Gos” are often thought of as those restricted to special residential facilities. These may include assisted living and nursing care residences. These facilities may also include the homes of these travel-limited adults and their caregivers. Homebound individuals are just as much “Can’t Gos” as those living in professionally sustained living centers.

Most of these people have seen their vital energies slowly slip away over the years. Physical strength and mental acumen have lessened in spite of all they might have wished. They have become almost totally dependent upon the care and intervention of others. No matter how much they might desire to do so, they cannot go where and when they want. Their hopes and dreams all too often have faded into the regrets of wishes unfulfilled. They see little purpose in day to day living.

What can we offer these individuals and their caregivers to assure them they still have value in the eyes of God and the world? What can we show them that will allow them to see they have much to offer of the highest value both to God and those around them? If they cannot get out and go into the world, then we need to show them another way they can be a part of the work of the Kingdom of God.

As Jesus told his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane,

Mar 14:38 And he said to them"Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

So we must also recognize in these special individuals the flesh may be weak, but the spirit is strong, strong enough still to impact the world.

Though they may not be able to gather with the family of God in corporate worship as they did before and wished to do now, they can still add their spiritual power to others in the faith. Among the spiritual disciplines are prayers of praise and intercession, Bible study, and meditation. There is also the sharing of personal testimony and offering an evangelistic witness.

For those who cannot go out physically and touch their world, they can go out in prayer. Through prayers of praise they are able to maintain a vital relationship with God. Through prayers of intercession they join their prayers to the prayers of other members of their congregation as they lift these concerns to the throne of grace. They may focus upon their own surroundings praying for those who provide their care and are their daily companions. They can use a prayer concerns list provided by their church family to intercede for their congregation and community.

Bible readings, study, and meditation may have to be aided by audio recordings when eyes no longer can see well. An extra incentive for these special people to be involved is to have younger members of their family or the congregation visit them and spend time reading their favorite scripture passages to them. We can encourage these homebound and restricted residents to consider the meaning of these passages for their own lives and for those for whom they pray.

A very special group of homebound individuals are the caregivers who provide the nurture their family members and friends need. They must stay close by their charges at all times. They are never free to leave when they might desire. This group needs the support of others as well. Not only do they need visitors, but they also need the reprieve respite care provides.

Age and travel restrictions should never be a limitation on one’s spiritual progress. Prayer is always available. The Bible is available in multiple forms. The “Can’t Gos” only need to have another way provided.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Won’t-Go’s Need Friends

Some older adults are always involved in activities enriching their lives. Other will be involved if receiving assistance from others. Then there are those more mature adults who feel they have nothing to contribute and no one has anything they should receive. Simply put, they have withdrawn from social interaction, and they need to know they have people around them who care.

The category of older adults referred to as ‘Won’t-Gos” from a church community perspective fall into that last category. They have voluntarily isolated themselves from social interaction because their self-perception has changed from earlier years. They had value most often before because of how they could contribute to the community. Now they are no longer able to do what they once did. Their sense of value has all but disappeared.

Another reason behind this withdrawal stems from broken relationships. For the older age group this most likely has resulted from the death of a life partner. The individual is now just that, an individual, whereas before they were a couple. Where do they fit? With whom should they associate? How are they able to join in to activities that before always recognized them as part of a duo. Now they are a single. The all too common response is simply to withdraw.

Often these “Won’t Gos” build a protective wall around their lives to lessen the pain caused by their sense of loss of value or place in familiar social circles. These walls will have to be removed if these individuals regain their sense of place in once familiar relationships. Such walls can be thick and hard to move. They may have been built quickly, but the effort to tear them down may be slow and energy draining. Love, compassion, and persistence are the greatest weapons we have to remove the walls.

A “Won’t-Go” must be convinced they are loved, valued, and even needed in the circles in which they feel no longer wanted. This takes personal contact and emotional investment by others who realize the relational family is incomplete without those who have removed themselves. It can be time consuming and frustrating, but the personal touch is the primary method to reach into the heart of these important people.

Essential actions can include personal invitations for involvement in activities which previously were deemed important by the “Won’t-Go”. A letter or card is not sufficient. There must be that personal contact that provides the human touch. Go beyond a personal invitation and provide the transportation that will add the extra incentive. Prove through your actions the presence of the “Won’t-Go” is valued.

Remember the special days in the life of the “Won’t-Go” which includes the difficult days as well as the happy ones. You can count on the fact they will remember them all. Make the phone calls. Send the cards. Special gifts are always appropriate. Offer to spend time together either at their home or again pick them up for a time out just the two of you or better yet with a circle of friends. Help them see the ways they can still contribute to a circle of friends and to their church family.

Remember the goal is to let the individual who has withdrawn know they are still valuable in relationships and in their contribution to the lives of others. They have a part to play in society. Their contribution will be lost to all if they do not come to realize they are needed by society as much as they need the personal touch of others.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Nice to See You – Now Go!

Have you ever had the feeling someone was telling you it was time to leave their presence, the old “Here’s your hat. What’s your hurry” attitude? We have all had the desire to be alone or in more limited company at times. The concern we need to feel is toward those who want to be alone most or all the time. Their interest in life does not extend beyond their own personal comfort and needs.

When we become a member of the oldest generation, we all must make decisions about how we will relate to life. Our income producing years will generally be over. Our physical abilities will not be what they used to be. Cognitive skills may show the first signs of decreasing due to aging. There are a few individuals facing these changes who decide they have only limited value to other people and society in general. Their reaction is to withdraw from any contact that would remind them of what they feel they have lost. They are the Won’t-Gos among our older adults.

Won’t-Gos are not to be confused with individuals who simply fill their schedules with so many personal interests they have no time or interest to join those of someone else. This group simply feels they cannot socialize with other people. The Won’t-Gos have lost much of their desire to be around others due to their self-perception of uselessness or because of painful relationships from the past. Any effort to bring them back into social relationships is met with a gentle or not so gentle rebuff.

The Church has a responsibility to reach out to these older adults who have assumed the most negative attitude toward their own condition or toward others. These are people loved by God and for whom Christ died as much as any other person. Won’t-Gos have value to God; they also have value to other people. The Church must take the initiative to help these older adults see they still have much to give to those around them.

There is much the Church, families, and acquaintances can do to help this group of older adults find joy in sharing life again. We must show them they are valuable, they have worth – to God and to the people around them. Past hurts can be forgiven and moved past. God-given gifts can be used as light in their circles of contact.

Mat 5:14-16  You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

They may not be able to do what they did in the past, but the present viewed honestly offers opportunities to contribute in other beneficial ways.

Past experiences may be the source of painful memories that have caused barriers to be raised. Ministry to Won’t-Gos focused upon confession, repentance, and forgiveness will probably be necessary. Positive past experiences can be used by others to enrich life in the present and future. Encouragement can help others face situations with greater confidence and boldness than might otherwise be felt. A smile, a word, or a touch might be all another person needs to decide that life is worth living after all. Won’t-Gos both need and can still offer these gifts.