During Ron’s recent hospitalization, I learned a lot about wisdom from a conversation I overheard while waiting in the hall. I wasn’t trying to hear it. It just happened. Not only did I learn a lot for myself, I learned a lot to pass on. In the weeks since hearing this conversation, I have thought about it often. I have prayed for this family and remembered the wise things spoken in the conversation.
I’ll set up what happened as I know it. A teen-aged boy was shot and nearly killed a few days earlier. The resulting brain damage caused his doctors to recommend that the family turn off life support machines. This family was in the hall between the waiting room and the door to ICU. At first, I didn’t know who all the players were. I learned during the course of the conversation that it was an interracial marriage so there was a mix of relatives making comments and giving advice. I decided against telling you which race each one was, but I can assure you that any caricature you have of who said what, will not fit this scenario.
That morning, high school counselors and students had been in and out of the unit, crying and hugging each other, saying goodbye to their friend.
The conversation began with one lady (an aunt) telling everyone that she thought the machines shouldn’t be turned off. After all, she had spent a night with said nephew and he had squeezed her hand. She knew in her spirit that GOD was going to heal him. A few other family members agreed with her, but one family member spoke up and said, “I think this decision is best for his parents to make and this is the decision they have to live with. We need to support them in it.” It wasn’t until later that I realized the boy’s mother was sitting right there! She said nothing to her sister (the aunt.)
Again, the aunt spoke up and said, “I guess you’re right, but we love him too. I just think the hospital has been too fast to turn off the machines. I think they look at us as an interracial group and think we aren’t worth much.” Again, some others agreed quietly. Once again, the family member said, “Are you kidding me? Do you really think we are the first interracial family they have come across? They don’t care about what color our skin is! They are trying to help us and do what is best for him.” Once again the group realized that argument was a little far fetched.
Again, the aunt raised another issue, the others nearby agreed. Again, the family member who had spoken up before, spoke wisdom into the situation, and once again, they all agreed. Meanwhile, the father had come and when he heard who was talking, he took his wife out of the conversation into the waiting room. Then he came out, sat on the floor and started weeping. They all gathered around him.
There were a couple of us who were not with this family and we tried to get even closer to the door we were trying to enter. It seemed like such a private family time for them. Soon, the father started talking about his son, remembering things from his childhood and simply reminiscing until more recently. It was a very special time for him to grieve and remember his son. Gradually, some of the family who had gone into the waiting room, came out into the hall and joined in.
There were other players in the conversation as well, but for simplicity, I wanted to give you just a peek into what helped this conversation move from being something very negative and angry against the very people trying to help this family into something more positive that helped the father and later the mother, be able to start grieving in a more healthy way, was this family member who was willing to buck the flow of the conversation and challenge it with truth and wisdom.
She was very calm. She didn’t quote a lot of Bible verses like one family member who popped in and out of the conversation with often inappropriately applied Bible verses. It was almost comedic…if it hadn’t been so sad.
But this one family member stayed steady and calm. She understood the feelings of those making the negative statements, but also reminded them of the facts of the situation. While at the same time, struggling with her own feelings! Being in her position was not easy.
How do we help move a conversation from a negative, tearing-down one to a life-giving conversation that moves a person to a healthier place?
When we are in these circumstances, we don’t need to just take in what everyone says and listen to it. We can walk away from people who tend to be negative re our doctors, our care, etc. We may even need to take care of friends or loved ones being browbeaten by people like this.
The key to wisdom in any situation, is to listen. This woman listened very well to what was said, both with words and with the heart! She didn’t listen legalistically, but with her heart! She heard things that weren’t said, but were felt. And she responded with wisdom, love and grace.The key to wisdom in any situation, is to listen well. Click To Tweet
As believers, we want to be life-givers who encourage and love those going through difficult times. Overall, we know that GOD is in control of whatever happens. When we have fallible, even poor doctors, or nurses who don’t seem to care, we know that He can intervene in mighty ways…and often does. At other times, He doesn’t. It is time for our loved one to be with Him and no matter how great their doctor is or how wonderful their medical care is, they are going to die.As believers, we want to be life-givers who encourage and love those going through difficult times. Click To Tweet
We also need to keep in mind that the person whose loved one is severely ill is going through trauma and is not always thinking straight on many levels!
We need to comfort them and support them in the ways they need it. This hospitalization, for me was rather different. I was more traumatized by what happened with Ron before he was hospitalized! He was unresponsive, stopped breathing intermittently, then they couldn’t figure out why it all happened. I couldn’t think straight and I had that feeling you have after an adrenaline rush…you feel like a limp dishrag!
When I started to get my mind back, I realized my doctor wasn’t talking to me and I couldn’t reach him! He wasn’t ordering a neuro consult and wasn’t talking to me about why he wasn’t! Sure enough, once he ordered the consult, it turned out the MRI showed Ron had had another stroke like I feared. Is there room to consider changing doctors? Yes, there is. But I needed to discuss it with the people I needed to discuss it with, not every person who came to see me.
For most of us, the encouragement we can give is to hug, pray with the person, tell them we are praying for them as they need both wisdom and healing, and if they want it, allow opportunity for them to talk and even vent without feeling we need to fix anything. Venting for me, helps me think through what I feel. Then I know what I have to do next. For others, it is not that way. They process better by thinking things through.
At times, people just want to talk about something totally unrelated to what is happening. We need to be ready for that. To help them laugh and joke and escape the world they are living in for a few minutes. It often depends on who the person is, what the relationship is and many other factors. We simply need wisdom to know.
My challenge to you: Be the voice of wisdom. It’s not following a set of rules.
Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days.
With God are wisdom and might;
he has counsel and understanding.