This past weekend, I was reminded of the gift to “gladden a heart.” Someone you know has a joy they want to celebrate. Another person you know has a heavy burden they are keeping secret, fearing discovery.
They could be a family member, or a stranger in the checkout line.
How Do You Gladden A Heart?
Your smile, acknowledgment, and open door are all simple ways to gladden another person’s heart. For them to feel that they matter, that you care.
I was privileged to share a radio show Saturday with two like-minded friends who have kind and caring hearts. Each of us has helped our parents as they aged and their lives changed. More than once, we each learned – the hard way – what it’s like to watch our parents’ independence erode.
Collectively, we’ve witnessed:
· Sadness, loss of friends and spouses
· Defensiveness and depression
· Lethargic eating
· Driving privileges lost
· Fighting to stay “in control”
· Stacks of mail, bills unpaid
· Medicine skipped, resulting confusion
· Loss of balance, leading to a fall, with long recovery
· Anger for being hospitalized
· Resigned acceptance when help is offered
· Gratitude when they feel loved, not “less than.”
Each of us expressed our personal desire to honor and respect our parents. How we sometimes struggled to “get it right.” To remain patient when communication is difficult. To withhold our assumptions and inflexible opinions and, instead, ask open-ended questions to uncover worries, wants and needs.
At the end, Mom exercised her right to refuse food and water…politely, quietly. No fuss or defiance…it was just too hard, and she became too frail.
As she declined, I discovered her amazing inner strength, and how very kind my mother was. The last two words she said to me were “thank you.” Former students talk about specific ways Mom helped them to grow up, face challenges, and become confident adults. She is still teaching me.
Thankfully, My Heart Has No Regrets
Life changes. I read the obituaries now. I’m mindful of every relationship, every day. I’m now more aware, and willing, to take the time to share how each person is experiencing some kind of loss, and treasuring moments of joy.
We can be a blessing for everyone we meet, if we’re only willing to share our intentional presence, open our heart, and create a safe place for others to be heard. Sometimes it’s just as easy as picking up the phone (see my last article, “Pick Up the Phone, Just Because” – with its surprising conclusions, affirmed by scientific research).
A Reminder to Gladden a Heart
My friend, The Rev. Amy George, closed our church service yesterday with this benediction – which I’ve printed, to keep in my car:
Life is short, And we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make the journey with us. So… be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.
As always, please share your comments and reflections, wherever you are led to love – to gladden another heart and, by extension, your own.