James tells us today that we all make many mistakes and that the tongue is a small member boasting of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. I expect you can think of several instances of a fiery tongue.
Isaiah tells us the Lord God gives us the tongue of a teacher so that we may know how to sustain the weary with a word. May be the Living Bible is more helpful, 'The Lord God gives us words of wisdom so that we should know what to say to these weary ones.'
We need to guard against losing our temper, against speaking hastily, cruelly, against idle gossip. We also need to seek words of wisdom to console, to encourage. Sensitivity is the name of the game. On the one hand how do we hide our feelings when a conversation turns boring or worse? On the other how do we find the right words to criticize compassionately and charitably when needs be? I recently had to write probably my most challenging letter ever.
What I call the twilight years are a challenging time. Moving into residential care is one such challenge. After my sister's fall and hospitalisation, she recently moved into a care home. At first all seemed fine. But then she told me she was none too happy with some of her carers. I rang the manager only to discover that many of the staff were complaining about my sister's words and attitude to them. He was hopeful that things would settle down, but ……
So I had to write a difficult letter, some of which I feel moved to share with you.
“John tells me that quite a few new residents have difficulty adjusting to their new situation and I appreciate just how hard it has been for you to cope with your fall, your slow progress in recovering, and finding yourself having lost so much independence for now.
I very much hope that you will see daily progress in your physical recovery however slow. I also very much hope that you will begin to feel happier with your care. I visit care homes quite a lot. Invariably carers have huge demands on their time. Their job must be a mixture of challenging and rewarding.
I read recently that the Christian gospel is preached first and foremost by the daily lives of those of us who call ourselves Christian. The living bible John 15.17 says 'I demand that you love one another.' In your situation that applies primarily to your carers. If you don't already do so may I suggest that when you press your buzzer to summon care that you pray for whoever is coming to help, and also for strength and guidance that you may be able love them so much that they are pleased to have come to your room. That could be good news all round!” Things have settled now, good news indeed!
Let us try and remember that we all make many mistakes, that the tongue can be a fire and that we need words of wisdom. So often prayer is the answer.
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