Resolving to remember the forgotten shut-incomment (0)
January 1, 2004
By Betty Baggott
There was no legitimate reason for her to pour out her heart to me, but she did. She sent the letter to my home in response to this article I write in The Alabama Baptist. She, as many others, had called Information to secure my address. The only reason she called was to pour out her heart to someone she thought might care.
She had been a shut-in now for some three years. Like many elderly people, she had been an active member of her church. What she could not understand was why no one came to see her on a regular basis. She shared that one lady came now and then, and she thought she was assigned to a deacon at the church. But he seldom called.
“When I think back over my life and remember all I have done for the church and my Lord, I hurt that it seems my work was not appreciated. Forgive me, I am just a little down today,” she said. In a trembling voice, she went on to share that her pastor only came to see her when she was in the hospital.
“By midafternoon, I sit here and just wish for a visitor. The house is so quiet. My children live out of town. I lie on the sofa in the den and watch television, but that is no substitute for the soothing voice of a human being,” she said. “Please pray for me, Betty. I am becoming bitter, and I don’t want to be. Why do people at the church forget us when we get old?”
My heart broke for this dear lady, and I wept that she did not sign her name or give me a return address. This is not unusual as some readers just long for someone with whom to talk and share their thoughts. They do not want to take the chance of someone knowing who they are.
My dear, I choose this way to respond to your letter and thank you from the bottom of my heart for feeling you could talk to me. I beg you to write again and give me your address. I assure you a letter back to you will be forthcoming.
Spirit lifted by visits
How well I remember when my dad, living in Augusta, Ga., was a shut-in. My spirits would be so lifted when I would call and hear that the GAs from the church had visited him. The preacher called over and over and various members shared love in so many ways. Please do not sit there in your home and harbor these feelings. Share with someone in your church the loneliness you are feeling. I have found that sometimes people think everyone else is doing it when no one is. That is the problem.
Call your pastor and tell him you would love a visit from him even if it is only once a month. Having been married to a minister for 48 years, I know how many people are in the hospital, how many emergency calls, etc., a pastor has. When someone is home and not sick, perhaps that visit is put on the back burner. Still I know many ministers who have a regular schedule for visiting shut-ins. Any minister worth a grain of salt would welcome a request from an elderly person to come visit them. Give it a try. Ministers cannot respond to needs if they do not know.
On the other hand, let’s face it. There may just be some churches where the response to the elderly is not what it should be. Call a friend from another church. There are too many caring people in the world for you not to have what you are seeking. Please write me again and know that you are loved. This time, give me your address.
There is a serious side to senior adult ministry, and visiting shut-ins is the most important. Please examine your church program and see what your church does for those who cannot do for themselves any longer. In my heart, I resolve to do more visiting in this coming year. Jesus was never in a hurry, but we are. Thank you for your overwhelming response to my friend Robbie Ellis that I wrote about last month. In little over a week, she received nearly 70 letters.
Please write me at Betty Baggott, 2304 Heritage Drive, Opelika, AL 36804.