Our church just finished a series of messages called “Yellow, Red, Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide”. Yellow was a message about the church and its place in our everyday lives. Red was about the home and our priorities within it. Orange was a message about the collision of church and home; the result was a new color… orange. Orange is distinctive and the parts mixed have to be “just right”. Orange people have the right balance. The week we discussed the home, Pastor Drew took one of his twins and instructed him on how to safely climb a mountain. It was a fantastic object lesson for doing more than verbally instructing someone.
In order to make the biggest difference, in order to have the most lasting impact on the life of another, one needs to commit to hands-on training.
Pastor Drew‘s son made it to the top safely because of the: 1) instruction received by someone more experienced than he was, 2) the strong “spotters” on the floor who were one of the numerous safety precautions, and 3) his dad was stronger than he was and could assist him while also getting himself safely to the top.
One of the things I like best about attending training sessions at Fidos For Freedom in Laurel, MD, is that teaching takes place between clients as well as client-trainer. There are clients who are culturally Deaf and late-deafened. Some clients use walkers or canes, while others are in wheelchairs or power scooters. New clients tend to gravitate towards other clients who have similar challenges. They are encouraged to ask questions. “Old-timer” clients and newbies both benefit from open communication. Having an assistance dog and a hearing loss is different than having a service dog and mobility challenges.
At the Hearing Loss Association of America – Frederick County chapter, new people attend not really knowing what to expect. An unexpected blessing and support often comes in the form of another person with hearing loss who has more experience. That experience can include things like advocacy, technical advice regarding hearing assistive technology, coping techniques with family and friends, and communication tips. Veteran members are strong examples because they had someone come along side them to assist when hearing loss was new to them.
I love interacting with other people who have Meniere’s disease, have hearing loss, are survivors of brain injury, or have cochlear implants. They are my “peer group”, and we learn from each other and make a difference by sharing our own life experiences as they pertain to these issues. Journeys are much more enjoyable with company.
“Life” Makes Us Good at SOMETHING
We are a sum of our parts; rather, who we are is the result of our life experiences. Not all of those experiences have been positive. In fact, some of those experiences may have been very negative, ushering in a major change in our life’s path. Some of the experiences were very positive. All experiences were used to teach us. I am unique and my life has had plenty of good and bad experiences. My life is only wasted when I choose to selfishly harbor all of those teaching experiences.
Some people think that something must be profound in order for anyone to profit from our sharing. On the contrary – life’s most ordinary lessons can make a difference to someone. This past week someone told me that they “discovered” the culinary pleasure of adding a little Feta cheese to chicken noodle soup. I’ve eaten this new-found delight four times this week! I’ve also had someone tell me that “parenting becomes a spectator sport when your children become adults… they still need you, but not in a participatory fashion”. This shared life experience has helped me as well.
Sometimes people may share something with you that you tuck away as an alternative viewpoint, but it may have only served to strengthen a perviously determined goal or decision. It may have been an opinion contrary to your own chosen morals, standards, beliefs and values. It still served a purpose; if not for any other reason than to strengthen a different decision. Don’t be afraid to share your life, both the mundane and profound experiences.
Imagine the Impact
I have been very up front with others about my faith. I do not believe religion has anything to do with real and lasting faith. At some point in time I determined that I was going to live out my faith. Who I was at church, would be who I was at home. The person my peers see at work, is the same person I am at home. Certainly, I am more “at ease” and comfortable in my pajamas drinking green tea and curled up with Chloe than I am when dressed in a business suit at work. Rather, I am talking about that inner person… the real me. I don’t want to be two-faced in my faith nor in my life.
Imagine how our relationships would change if we allowed God and our priorities that center around our faith, collide with the priorities we have at home and work. We’d all be walking around ORANGE, and more REAL than any past facade we once tried to model for others. If you walk around YELLOW, you have separated yourself from the world to the point you are not interacting or making a difference to those around you. You are very spiritual, but not very faithful. If you walk around RED, you quickly become self-centered and only see your immediate needs and problems. Complete independence isn’t a sign of strength. We were created to be dependent and to need relationships. ORANGE people strike that healthy balance. ORANGE people are influential without even trying.
© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal