Stewardship of Giving and Receiving Support
Like many folks in my “golden” age bracket, I’ve been in the hospital and its operating rooms several times. Each journey has presented opportunities to offer stewardship of support and to receive stewardship of support from others. I thank God for both gifts.
A couple of days after my first operation, one of the attending doctors came in early and said I was ready to go home. The head doctor came in a little later and said (I fervently believe God spoke to him) I was to stay another day. That evening a younger woman who had undergone a radical operation was brought to the other bed in my room. She was miserable with a terrible itch. The nurses did all they could for her, but nothing had eased her pain. When the last nurse stepped out, I asked my new roommate if she would like for me to read to her. She asked if I had a Bible. What I had was my Prayer Book, so I turned to the Psalms and began to read a number of my favorites. I’m not sure when she fell asleep, but after several hours, she stated to me, “God’s word brought me peace medicine couldn’t.”
Another time, everyone in the recovery room was held longer than usual because an emergency somewhere in the surgical department had backed everything up. During that extra time period, I discovered the woman in the bed next to me was an inmate from Fluvanna Women’s Prison, where I had done volunteer work for years. For that while, I was afforded the privilege to do what the two officers at the foot of her bed could not, by restraints of their jobs. Even though I could not tell her my name, I could offer her comfort and talk to her about my wonderful Kairos experiences at her “home.”
Often, it’s hard for “old coots” like me to ask for supportive help. Recently, St. James clergy guided me to take the action of declaring what help I needed for some medical treatments. St. James family members said, “Thank you for letting me know how I can help.” They accompanied me to places out of their comfort zone. They assisted and entertained my out of state sister and brother-in-law. They spent nights in my home, flushed my pick line, put on “space suits” to visit me, and prayed for me without ceasing. I assert there is power and strength, guided by the Holy Spirit, in these acts of stewardship of support.
~ Patty Driskill, church member, senior warden
Parenting as a Stewardship Opportunity
My opening line of many parenting workshops has been, “I thought I knew everything about parenting, and then I had a child”. I want to take a moment to share how I believe I was given a stewardship opportunity by God that transformed my life and impacted the lives of others as well. After being married for 6 years, Greg and I were blessed to find out we were expecting a baby who would be born in April of 1979. Katie burst into our lives with an infectious smile and healthy, spirited zest to meet and conquer the world. Three short months later, all of that changed after a damaging inoculation left her with no muscle tone, no more verbal banter and no eye contact. As you can imagine, we were devastated. The most difficult part was that no medical personnel would give us the support or guidance that we needed to be able to move forward. Because my background was in education and counseling, I thought I should have the answers needed to help her and find the qualified professionals we needed to advise us. We constantly heard that we were overreacting and misunderstanding her needs and that she was just developmentally delayed and would be fine. Greg and I both knew that wasn’t true. We were both there the night she suffered her debilitating reaction and watched her change right before our eyes.
Years of frustration in searching for assistance were coupled with unconditional love and support from family, friends and the power of prayer. I was often very angry and extremely sad, probably grieving over the loss of a healthy child. I was confused why this happened to my little girl. With every kind touch of someone’s hand or unexpected smile or hug when I was embarrassed by her odd behaviors, I was comforted. I began to realize that I was spending more time searching for answers and accountability and very little time enjoying the beautiful daughter I had been given. It was like a switch had been flipped and a bright light came on. The more we began to enjoy and accept her, the more “acceptable “she became. I don’t believe that God is responsible for what happened to Katie but I do believe that God’s immeasurable love was always present in our lives while we struggled with our parenting journey. Other people began to comment on Katie’s remarkable accomplishments which often still amaze us as well. We were so blessed to have been given the gift of becoming parents and never take for granted that we are only stewards of all that we have been given. As parents, our children will disappoint us, make us proud, embarrass us and give us such a sense of joy that it is often indescribable. Thanks be to God for all of these blessings.
~ Jill Schumacher - church member
Stewardship of the Body
The summer has come to a close. If you are anything like me, the desire to eat healthy and exercise outside is also coming to a close as the temperature begins to drop. Many of my clergy colleagues run into similar attitudes throughout the year. So much of our time with others is in a social atmosphere where food and sitting is involved. It is great at the time but we often fall into the trap of complacency when it regards our bodily health in the winter.
One goal as a minster to my church family and to myself is to teach self-care. Whether or not we wish to admit it our bodily health is not separate from our spiritual health. I am reminded by Paul’s words to his congregation in Corinth when he wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I do not believe Paul’s writing is intended to be restrictive, knowing that we draw comfort from the food and drink of the earth. (Matthew 15:11; Psalm 104:15) However, he knows that who we are and what we have is a gift from God. When we honor the gift of ourself like we honor the gifts given to us by others, then we will more fully recognize the love offered to us by God.
In my life there are ups and downs. I believe this is the reality of the human lot. Despite the struggles I am thankful I am here, that I have a voice, and that I can interact within this complex and wonderful world. Maintaining the health of my body in ways that are in my control, then, can be seen as a manner of prayer where I praise the Lord.
One way that I hope this message will empower you is that you see caring for your personal health as an example of spiritual stewardship. It is a word that is often taboo in the Church, usually associated with money and the priest asking for one to get out their checkbooks. However, that is a very limited and narrow definition of stewardship.
Stewardship, is often defined as care, management, or protection of something that is precious and vulnerable. We as individuals created in God’s image are both precious and vulnerable as witnessed by Jesus’ death on a cross. The same can be said of our relationships with one another as a church community.
The reality we must live into, then, is that God made us stewards of creation. This means that we are protectors of the gifts of God. We are a gift in and of ourselves and I hope that you will find through prayer a greater need to honor it with love, not only mentally or spiritually, but physically. Say a prayer to God this very day thanking Him for your life and ask for guidance in how to honor it more fully!
With love and prayers,