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When I saw this quote, it reminded me of one of the Bible lessons that made up part of our service yesterday. The Rich Man and Lazarus is in the sixteenth chapter of Luke.

The Rich Man and Lazarus (NIV)

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Pastor Sean explained to us that different theologians interpret this passage in different ways.  The one he prefers is that Lazarus, the only person named in a parable, is so low and miserable that even the dogs take pity and clean his wounds.  The rich?  They ignore him.

Every day, when the rich man exited through his gate, he would have seen Lazarus.  He could have gotten Lazarus a doctor.  He could have fed him. He could have reached out.

Our pastor encouraged us not to feel guilty about what we have. Why?  Because that will only drive us to also turn away.

I know that not everyone who reads this has wealth, but even if you are using a computer at your library, you can write a letter.  Encourage a policy maker to address poverty, health care issues or environmental change this is impacting the poor.  Thank someone who has inspired you.  Reach out to someone who simply needs to know they are seen.

Come on.  Don’t let the dogs be the only ones who get the message.

–SueBE

 

When I posted the above image on my Facebook page, it launched quite a discussion with my aunt.  She pointed out that questions about jobs and houses and college are how we try to connect.  Which is true.

But it may not be the best way.

In diversity training, we learn that there are questions that carry cultural and economic baggage.  If you are middle class, you may not immediately realize this. These questions include:

Where do you work?  Which assumes that not only do you have a job but that it is vitally important.  People who work in service jobs may be okay discussing work with similarly employed people, but management?  Um, no.

Do you own your house?  Another money question.  What’s our hang up?  Oh, right.  We really value money.  But not everyone can or wants to own a house.  Launching into a lecture about “good investments” isn’t going to change their minds.

Where are you going to college?  College is not the ideal choice for everyone.  Some people just aren’t suited to this particular path.  Other people can’t afford it.  Or they can only afford local and non-residential.  Launching into a passionate speech about dorm life or sorority as a vital part of the college/growing-up experience?  Sigh.  Millions of people have grown into functional, thriving adults without this particular experience.  Really.  You’re talking to one of them.

When we launch into these topics, we often are not connecting with people.  We are putting up barriers as we try to direct the conversation toward what matters to us.  What then do you discuss?

With my friend’s youngest son, I ask him what he’s reading.  He is always reading something and it is never what anyone would guess.

One of the teens always has on a t-shirt with a saying.  We talk about her shirts.

Another teen is into all thing super hero so that’s what I bring up.  Or we argue, I mean discuss, the plausibility or implausibility of various movies.  The Meg, for example, would not have been able to survive in the deep ocean without equally huge prey.  He would have also lost his eyes and his countershading since he wasn’t swimming within sight of sunlight.

In the story of the Tower of Babel, multiple languages were created to divide mankind.  Me?  I’ve always assumed we do enough of this ourselves when we assume that everyone values the same things that we do.

–SueBE

Last week was just brutal.  I don’t know why.  I mean have a few ideas . . . I had a book due.  But I’ve done that before.  Why did I feel so overwhelmed.  Then came the annual nasty gram.  Yep, we have a nickname for it.  A long, ranting e-mail for the purpose of making someone feel like poo.

But this time things really seemed to be getting to me.  It seemed like I was hit on all sides with texts, e-mails, and messages.  I want . . . I need . . . do this . . . why doesn’t anyone ever contact me just to say hi?  I’m sick of being valued only for what I can do for other people.  I’ve had it.

Then I saw it.  Miss Ruth had e-mailed Lori and I.  She just wanted to check in and see how I was doing.  Did I need to talk?

That’s all it took.  Someone was out there.  And I might not have been the one that really needed to hear from Ruth but that simple e-mail? It helped a lot.

Someone was listening.  Contact was made.

God has given us each other for a reason. Yes,  He is always there.  We are never alone.  Yes, He always hears.  We just have to call out. But sometimes, a little human touch it the help we need to lift up our chins and know that we aren’t alone.

Reach out to someone today.  Let them know that you are there and that you see them.  Take a chance and you just might turn someone’s week around.  Miss Ruth did with one short e-mail.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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