“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An example of a servant

I received word last night that a woman who had been attending our group died suddenly. She was a person who used a wheel chair, and had been surviving breast cancer although it seemed her condition suddenly worsened. I remember the day that a friend of mine, a man who experiences a cognitive disability decided to move in with her and out of town. They made the decision with guidance from a community supports agency, although I felt the agency handled the situation very poorly (facilitating his move away from his entire support network which continues to be a problem for him as he has to take the bus about 1 1/2 hours each way to get to church). He and I used to have coffee together once a week and enjoyed a friendship which was made more difficult when he moved. Of course there were the questions of the two of them living together from a Christian standpoint as well, which I also felt the agency stepped all over through their recommendations. The whole situation could have handled much better, which I communicated to the agency. My hope is that with her passing, my friend will be moving back into town again so we can enjoy coffee together again.

However, if it hadn't been for my friend and his selfless service to his girlfriend, I don't know what her life would have been like. When he first met her, she was living in a group home, only because she lacked the ability to take care of her basic needs. The physical nature of her disability constrained her. By my friend coming along side of her, her world was opened. She could now have an apartment with significant independence in the community. She had someone who could help her to move about the community, pushing her wheelchair from place to place. Her significant hygienic needs were handled well. I cannot remember my friend ever offering so much as a complaint although he had to get up most nights to change her when she soiled herself in bed, or wet the bed. He would transfer her to the bathroom, clean her up, clean up the bed and then go back to sleep. What dedication! What love for her! In many ways, he literally sacrificed himself in service to her with the result being a much more normalized life for her.

Towards the end of her life, she became impatient with those around her, no doubt because of the discomfort and pain she was feeling. I would at times get upset with her, I must admit. He, however, was nearly always friendly, always compassionate, always caring. Like any other relationship, they would at times get upset with each other, but the kindness and compassion always shined through the clouds.

I am unsure that he realizes all he did for his friend. But I plan to make sure that I express to him for her, the tremendous difference he made in her life. He was an example to me of what a servant is. I pray I will be as caring and compassionate with the people in my life as he was to his friend.



Anonymous said...

I think we can all learn a lesson from Jeff's friend who selflessly gave himself to serve and love someone else. I think if Christians would began to have an eye, looking for these types of oppertuninty we would be blown away. But instead we are more consumed with our own need and what we can get from things that we focus our eyes upon ourself
rather than others. This is a hard thing to do because of our sin nature and our predisposition if you will to focus on our selves. As Christians we need to be constantly going before God and asking Him to break us of our self centeredness and pride in order for us to become more like Christ, a true servant to others.


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Anonymous said...

This story is amazing! It is so heart warming to hear such a great love for another person. Even through the man’s own cognitive disabilities he wanted to love and help that woman. I wish and pray that people today and I could learn from this man’s great example. This man must love the Lord, to love someone such and have no complaints.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” ~1John 4:7
It is a shame that the man was forced to move so far away from the church and you. I feel like services probably do not care where his church was. They probably figured he could find a new church to attend. Services such as those I feel like they think they are the only one’s able to help people even though the church was probably taking him and his friend away from an even greater resource of help.
Even though through this man’s cognitive disability it is great to read that he helped this woman so much. It conveys that one might not need the knowledge of the disability to help but just the love and want to help is what suffices and is the best thing. I know I’m always hesitant to try and help a person with a disability because I’m afraid of doing something wrong. But, this shows me if my heart is in the right place and I just show the person love that is all they need.