Thursday, April 18 2024 - 8:12 AM
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Caring Til It Hurts

Do you ever read or watch social media and get overwhelmed by bad news? Late last week I happened to find two friends facing surgery, and another one had a blood clot after having had surgery. Immediately my heart went out with concern and frustration. I am so far away and I care about these people. I may never see some of them again. So I responded to several people online, and telephoned one that night and discovered his situation. Sometimes I even send flowers.

In my grandmother’s times she was mostly concerned with her immediate family, friends from the neighborhood, church or quilting group. Early in grandmother’s marriage her mother used to write postcards to her from 40 miles away. Perhaps an annual family reunion picnic was when folks caught up on their lives. Now we can receive news from all over the world simply by watching television or opening up our computers. Peace of mind is hard to come by with so many situations and potential acquaintances.

Finding Balance and Boundaries

How many people can we really attend to or pray for? Sometimes I feel guilty for not posting birthday greetings on Facebook. This may not be a difficult challenge for true introverts. The rest of us on the social continuum often struggle with worry or concern about how to show love and concern. We are so connected in this era and yet so isolated. How do we balance showing love and still have time to fill our own emotional tanks or listen for God’s guidance?

Perhaps part of the answer for dealing with a daily quantity of good or bad news is found in truly knowing myself and God. It’s another aspect of personal boundaries. God can broaden my ability to love and care, however, there are the realities of time, energy, health, and resources. Other people exist whom God can prompt to help, step in, and appear when needed. Sometimes I have to get out of the way.

When Caring Hurts:

1. Be accountable to a group of healthy people who can provide a network for prayer burdens or real-time service. This can exist online or in real-time. Yet beware of becoming the one who consumes all the requests! Give and receive.

2. Limit exposure time to news media. Create a time budget for the news and social media; perhaps even use an alarm clock since it’s easy to get lost in that wilderness.

3. Trim and edit the friends list for social media and real life. Who are those people who tend to suck the life out of you and provide little mutuality in return? This trim in turn may open up time to explore a new acquaintance or reach out to someone else.

4. Focus. Sometimes we are just spread too thin. Try selecting one special person each week to pray for and write a handwritten note (rarity now). Experiment with a budget for flowers, cards, or other small gifts to send to sick or hurting friends.

I will try with God’s help to do what I can, with those that I know, and trust them to his care. After all, he gave me this caring heart and I have dedicated it to him.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. Do you ever struggle with how to show your long-distance friends that you care?

2. When you are sick or have had surgery, what matters most to you?

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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