Last week’s post introduced ways Jesus’ love can overflow our hearts and be used to bless others. The focus was on loving single moms. This week, I wanted to highlight another demographic that would love any extra smiles you have to offer this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day can feel like a day gone by to shut-ins and the elderly. At the same time that a young single girl might be sitting at home and wondering why her day isn’t pink and roses, other hearts are sitting indoors, maybe recalling the days of dances and holding hands that are now only memories. Jesus wants to hold these hearts too. He wants them to know that they are dearly loved, and never forgotten.
It can be easy to try to bring warmth into someone’s life through an upbeat smile and a chipper attitude, but it is not always easy to start a meaningful conversation with someone when you might not even know their story.
Perhaps you already know of older people to visit who would love the company, or you may be venturing into new territory. Every person will be different, so be sensitive in interacting with those to whom God leads you. Valentine’s Day often feels like a time to make a big show of affection through gifts and attention, but it may also be a point of sorrow for someone who is grieving a loved one. If you aren’t sure what the best approach would be, just bring yourself and be a friend. Remember that sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen.
Some people don’t need much encouragement to start a conversation, with others, it may be helpful to ask questions. What sorts of music do they like? Maybe you could even listen together of your phone. Do they have a favorite season, flower, or sport? If they have been in church for a large part of their lives, they may have favorite Bible verses or hymns. You may even find common ground that you didn’t expect. I once had a very amusing conversation with my grandmother about how we didn’t understand the trends and fads of “our generation” (hers and mine respectively), and how they all had to be up on the latest things like Elvis or rap music.
Be sensitive, but don’t be afraid to reach out. It can be common in nursing homes for a person to have physical touch from those who care for them, but not very often from friends who have time to sit and hold their hand or give a reassuring touch. Jesus also reached out into places and to people that needed the warmth of His reassuring hand. Spend time with Him and learn His same compassion for people who are in situations we might not understand. Even if they seem not to understand everything that is going on around them, ask Jesus to give you His eyes to look past it, and His hear to speak to them as a friend would. In the midst of a life that rushes by, stop and have a chat with someone who needs a friend. He may share a blessing with you that you did not expect as you reach out to share His love.
Ask if you can pray with them before you leave. Even if a person’s mind is not what it used to be, their spirits often remember the touch of their Savior. It is such a sweet thing to hear a heart that has long belonged to Jesus when it prays. If you think that you may not be able to visit again for a while, make sure to tell them what the time meant to you. Don’t be afraid to speak from the heart and let them know what has touched you. For someone who cannot get out much anymore, it can mean the world to know that they can still reach others too.
If you have any stories you would like to share or ideas for reaching out to others, please let us know in the comments. We would love to get to know you or answer any questions you might have. Thank you so much for spending time here with us. Next week will be the final post on making sure no Valentines are left behind.