“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” — Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist
“Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you.” — Shannon L. Alder
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” — Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
As I held the handset’s receiver against my ear and heard the woman’s most gentle voice—a voice that I’ve not heard for over 30 years—say, “I will always love and think of that young boy who came to live with us.”
Her name is Rosa.
A beautiful, graceful and Godly woman who…after a listening to a heartfelt plea from her son…selflessly took in a young, troubled soul found living in his junk car. She didn’t ask any questions about the boy’s background. Who was his family? What type of character did he have? Was he in trouble with the law?
Her only intention was to make sure that this young boy felt at home.
This graceful-aged woman and her family saved my life from loneliness, despair, and from becoming a social derelict with their unquestioning acceptance, kinship joy, and unceasing encouragement to find a purpose in life. And yes, they saved me from sleeping in the backseat of that junk car for another night.
Her willingness to take in a stranger changed the course of my life. I was plucked out of a chaotic, toxic and destructive environment that would have led me on the path to prison. And if it wasn’t for Rosa’s selfless kind act, I wouldn’t have ever experienced a family’s genuine acceptance. Her family exemplified of what a caring community can do for a lost soul. And over the years, I’ve learned and embraced the tremendous benefits of being a part of a community, especially when life’s storms come crashing in on one’s life.
We are created to be a part of a community
Some would like to believe that they can face life’s struggles like the Lone Ranger ̶ who is able to endure and overcome life’s rugged challenges, and then ride off in the sunset until the next challenge. You can accept it or not, but when we suffer, other people suffer. And when we rejoice, other people rejoice with you (1 Corinthians 12:26). In fact, American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow argued that all humans have a “need for friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love.”
We rob the joy from others when we say, “no”
The benefit of being a part of a community is not just for us. I know it’s hard for some individuals who are experiencing a life struggle, but when we allow others to help us, we’re giving them the opportunity to not only feel good, but we are also allowing them to be used by God (Matthew 25:35-40). What’s more, when we say “no” to others, we’re robbing them of the joy of serving us.
We can still experience joy in helping others when life is hitting us
While there are many benefits of being a part of a community and that we shouldn’t say “no” to others who want to help us, we should also endeavor to help others, even though we’re experiencing a life challenge ourselves, such as fighting cancer or being unemployed.
Despite the fact that I’m currently undergoing cancer treatment and experiencing some side effects, it doesn’t stop me from giving workshops and career help to individuals at McLean Bible Church’s Career Network Ministry. As long as I am still breathing, I’m going to continuously strive to live out my personal life vision: To be selfless and of service; committed to take care of, benefit, and be of value to those around me by truthful and compassionate thoughts, words, and actions. For I am compelled…verily I’m obligated…to help others, because of people like Rosa, who invested their time into me.
Moreover, when someone invests themselves into me — either through selfless service, gifts or their time — they’re actually giving up a part of their life for me. How can I not fight then? How can I not help others? If I decided to give up or cease giving a hand to someone in need, then I am actually throwing away the service, gift, or time that was generously invested into me!
So, the best way that we can show our appreciation to those who’ve invested themselves into us is to fight on, and at the same time comfort others who are in need (2 Corinthians 1:4).
During one of my worst moments in life, Rosa showed me that there is a community out there who wants to help, serve, and love us. And remember, we’re meant to be a part of a community. And we shouldn’t take their joy away to help us from saying “no.” But what’s more important, we should never cease doing for others, even when we’re suffering. Because when we do help someone in need, our troubles start to diminish as our hands begin to help, serve, and love others.
- To learn more about the benefits of volunteering in a community.
- To learn more about the benefits of joining a support group.
- “A Gift Found within the Community” Photo Journal
Prayer Request: Dear Heavenly Father, as it written in Your word, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), where two or more are gathered in Your name that You are there and You will provide comfort and rest for those in need. Help me, dear Lord, to be used, even now as I fight against cancer, as an adequate vessel for others. Remind me that You’re there always, in good and troubled times. And help me to always be obedient to Your will when it comes to serving and caring for others. Even though I receive the joy of helping others, it is You that gets the Glory and recognition, not me. I pray for those who are reading this blog that you give them the courage to face today; a trust and confidence that they’ll prevail over anything that comes their way. Please release Your grace and mercy to help that person who is in need; show and bring them to a community that can bring refreshing and comforting words and healing winds. I humbly ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Clinical Notes: I will have to undergo another infusion this Friday, Sep. 22. So far, I’ve been able to handle the side effects well. Also, a friend of mine sent me a newspaper clipping about Opdivo, which is one of the two drugs I am receiving. Opdivo is becoming a promising new drug for advanced Staged IV Melanoma cancer patients like myself.