A few weeks ago we returned from the May 2012 retreat in Orlando, Florida. This was a special retreat for me because it was the first time I was able to invite a family I knew personally to come on a retreat & see them be cared for & enjoy a few days together outside of their normal routine fighting cancer. Amy & Adam Patwa, & their adorable daughter Charis, attended this retreat and blessed me & so many others with their transparency & hope in the midst of a life-threatening illness. Something really amazing happens on these retreats. Staff & volunteers love families. Families love each other. Everyone ends up serving each other in some way, shape, or form... maybe without even realizing their impact.
A Word from the Wise: Amy blessed me through her willingness to share her heart with some of the other parents in a group counseling session one morning. I asked Amy if it was okay to share something she said during one of the adult sessions that really stuck out to me & other parents in the group. She is one wise survivor of metastasized breast cancer, who is fighting & loving her family & others so well in this process. While we were talking about some of the hardest parts of being a parent of young children while battling a life-threatening illness, Amy spoke up & said this: "Something I've come to realize lately is that embracing playing the role of the needy part of the body has really not only blessed me, but really blessed others. I'm not afraid to tell people now what we need & how they can help. It's a gift to others for me to let them help & serve us in our greatest need in this season of our lives." We went on to discuss how letting others help makes us better versions of ourselves, better spouses, & especially better parents. It allows us to better care for those we love while dealing with our own stuff.
Community: This is what Amy was referring to as she spoke about being a "needy" part of the body. Now typically that word "needy" is not a word we like to use to describe ourselves. However, when we can can step back & see the big picture it may become something we can more readily accept & even welcome! For Amy this has meant that when people offer to let her & Adam go on a date, or clean their house, or watch their daughter, they have learned to take them up on it. They submit to their role in the body for this season & allow others to play their part of serving those in need. Being in need can feel like a lonely place. Or it can feel like you are a part of something God is doing for His glory. Amy & Adam have chosen to do this beautifully. Through accepting their role in the body in the midst of Amy's cancer, they have allowed others to live out their role in the body. This in turn has created a sense of community that is irreplaceable for those around them. They are allowing others to enter into their mess. In the hard times in life, my natural tendency is to retreat or isolate. I try to figure out how I can handle things on my own. Thank you Amy for reminding me in Orlando & daily as I follow your caringbridge site & blog that accepting help is such a gift to those in the giving role. Everyone wins in this scenario. It's how we were created to live, in relationships with others. You have modeled community & I want to taste of it more because of you! We never know what role we may step into in the body. It's all about welcoming seasons with open arms & attempting to lean hard into our Creator & the ones He has placed around us for such a time as this.
The big picture: found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Here is a paraphrase below:
One Body, Many Parts: "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body... now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.... But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
What is your role in your home? Your town or city? Amongst your friends or family?
I'm so glad that we do not all look the same or play the same role in the body.
We truly need each other!
[if you have read this & feel like you need help in finding some support in your community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can provide you with some resources!]