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2012-01-05 digital edition

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2012-01-05 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

You Know What the Bible Says

I knew this was going to be tough. Steve glared at me, sizing me up, a ‘who-the-blank-are-you?’ frown spreading across his face.

I introduced myself and sat down. After a brief silence, I said, “So, tell me your story.”

Steve talked non-stop for two hours. It began with a pain-filled, unbelievably abusive childhood. His teen years were marked by resentment, fear, gang violence, and crime. By his early twenties, he was diagnosed with MS and began to lose his mobility.

A decade and an amputation later, here he was, with no family, confined to a bed in a nursing home, spending his days watching a small TV 18 inches from his pillow.

His anger was palpable. More than anything he wanted revenge. “You know what the Bible says: ‘Do unto others as they’ve done unto you,’” he said.

Abuse, pain, fear, and violence are terrible things. We can wind up horribly scarred, our thinking badly skewed by evil, even to the point of believing the Bible says the opposite of what it actually does. I could feel Steve’s bitterness, and his aloneness.

I visited Steve for three months. I wish I could say we made progress. He simply told his story over and over. He just couldn’t believe anyone, especially God, cared.

I still hurt for Steve. Sometimes I look around and wonder, “How many of the people around me right now are hurting, feeling terribly alone, and wondering if anyone cares?”

Today is an opportunity. Let’s dare to care.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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