Walking Alongside

In our Western culture we pride ourselves in being independent and “getting it done.”  Inner strength is admired and everyone knows we strive to raise our children to become self sufficient. Those who call for help  are too often viewed as lightweights. We aim to be private. We manage our situations and our emotions and our needs. We nod our heads in agreement when we say we need community and yet, we isolate ourselves. When life is smooth and easy we’re eager to share the good. When life gets bumpy and messy and difficult, we cocoon ourselves. We don’t show a need for support or advice.

Jesus calls us to a different perspective. He calls us to love one another and that requires us to be actively involved in another’s bumps and mess and difficulties. It means we assist in carrying the weight of the hard times. It calls for inconvenience and self sacrifice. The Apostle Paul loved people well. He modeled what it means to be involved in their lives and to pray with them and pray for them and putting aside his own wants and petty issues, placing others above himself.

Col. 1: 9- 12 states, “For this reason , since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Imagine having your friends and community folks praying this Scripture for you- seeking God’s richest blessings upon you. Imagine YOURSELF praying this for the people in your circle. This is what we’re called to do, actually. To share. To pray for each other. To love.

Who can you pray for? Who might you ask to pray with you? Risk being vulnerable. Sometimes that’s what love looks like.

 

 

2017 Year End Gift

Byron Community Ministries is a 501- C3 Charitable organization. Consequently, we are able to provide a tax deductible receipt for any financial gifts given to us. It’s not too late to consider us for your 2017 year end gift giving!

We have a lot happening here and strive to stretch our dollars to maximize their effectiveness throughout our community. If ever you’d like a tour of our facility or be interested in a thorough explanation of how we serve Byron Center, please know you’re welcome to stop by (we’re closed Fridays) or call us at 878- 6000. We love to tell about what we’re doing! And we anticipate yet more good work to be done, all made into reality through the generous donations given to us by people just like you.

Thank you in advance for partnering with us to make Byron Center the community it is! Happy New Year!

No Judgment Here

Last week an older gentleman who frequently stops by to “shoot the breeze” came into our building. As usual, he came into the Director’s office and sat down with a pleasant smile on his face. He proceeded to talk about his activities since the last time he’d come by. You know, grandchildren, church, his favorite TV show, and preparing for winter. Not too long into the conversation he became much more serious and said, “I have something I’ve been wanting to tell you now for quite some time. Let me explain.”  He then grew very serious and tears gathered in his eyes. I listened, waiting for what might follow. He shared how two decades ago he spent twelve years in prison- that he deeply regrets what took place and he exited the prison a changed man. He continued by saying, “I wanted to let you know about this, because I want to be the person I think you think I am.”  Pausing, only because I was to taken aback by his candidness, I replied, “You just made yourself extremely vulnerable. You didn’t have to do that. Thank you for trusting me.” He rose up, wiped a tear, and said, “That just feels better.”

We’re grateful for the opportunity to minister to a multitude of needs at Byron Ministries. We never know who is walking in the door or what they’re confronting, but we try to live out the saying of, “No judgment here.” At least for that good man and on that particular day, we succeeded.

Depression Needs Attention

Until just a couple of years ago I knew very little about depression or mental illness overall. I  realized there’s an unfortunate stigma attached to it and that most people might choose to have diabetes, heart disease, or a chronic back condition- anything- over confronting mental illness.

I’m a middle-aged professional and active woman. I have a wide range of friends and a loving, stable family. My life was cruising along normally and then suddenly I felt “different.” As my husband and I walked into our church one Sunday morning I felt a grey cloud follow me in. The cloud lingered throughout the afternoon. I noticed it, but went on as usual. The next day the cloud greeted me when I awoke. Little did I know that the cloud would become my constant companion, growing in intensity in every dimension and affecting what I did, how I perceived myself, and impacting the goals I had set.

The cloud slowly became a storm that robbed me of my normally optimistic perspectives. Fatigue set in and I found myself sluggish, moving less often, and consequently, I gained weight. The daily exercise routine was more than I could fathom. Whereas once exercise was an anticipated release, it became yet another overwhelming “have to.” Even my regular, fast paced walk in the office or to my car in the parking lot grew substantially slower. I reasoned, “You’re getting older,” yet I knew it was more than aging.

I assumed my close friends noticed a difference in me. I mean, I grew quiet and my smile disappeared. Even still, no one asked, “How are you?” Did they truly not notice a change? Did they think it would be invasive to ask or place them in a vulnerable role? Beyond my husband, who was patient and accepting, I felt all alone and lonely in this new experience. I lost hope for the future. Believe me, that’s a sad place to exist and I often wondered at that point how I would survive another 25- plus years, as the future looked dismal and burdensome; something to be endured rather than received and enjoyed.

Interestingly, my path intersected simultaneously with two individuals I’d not met before. Both are Believers and both were genuinely caring about my state of being. Though neither one is a therapist or a social worker, they asked pertinent questions, extended amazing grace, and provided solace and unending encouragement. Both made themselves available to me. They each walked with me, sharing the love of Christ in a manner I’d not experienced before. They were like an oasis in the desert and oh, so timely for this thirsty soul!

Slowly, over a period of time, I began to see the drudgery of life begin to lift. I began to notice flickers of joy, reservoirs of hope, and a slightly quickened pace returned. One year ago I suddenly said out loud to myself, “You’ve emerged. You made it!” Even so, a fear came over me as I realized the depression could return. I reminded myself again and again that while this may be true, I need to only consider what I confront today and embrace what is given to me. And I have.

Now, thirteen months later I have gotten only stronger and stronger and can see important lessons I learned from the saga. Quite honestly, I can’t say I’m thankful for the depression, but I can recognize valuable lessons learned and priceless insights provided from the experience. For those, I give thanks.

I now have an increased sense of when I interact with another person who is battling depression. I can fully empathize and make myself available to them as needed. I didn’t choose depression or cause it to happen. It just seems that the middle-aged season was ideal for it to occur and that’s that. The treasured comrades who loved me through the cloud will forever be my heroes. They each taught me countless ways to “love as Jesus loves.”  My goal is to serve others who struggle in like manner.

Since the depression lifted I began to see a Christian counselor. She has pointed me to Scripture, has helped affirm my value, and has listened attentively to my fears. This experience has been new, but comforting and beneficial. To touch base periodically with her and to know I am mentally healthy is a worthwhile use of time. My future looks bright and I give endless thanks for those who have seen me through this.

Flu Shot Season Has Arrived

Byron Ministries will host our annual flu shot clinic at our facility located at 8250 Byron Creek Dr. (Behind Byron Manor) on Thursday, October 12 from 10 AM – 7 PM.

A donation of $10 is suggested.

Plan to bring your children with you to our clinic.

Stay healthy this winter, as no doubt germs will be all around us!