Within the mentally challenged community, there is always a great deal of weariness.  Parents see no end to the responsibilities they must carry for the well-being of their children.  Young parents grow bone tired of their parenting chores. Having a mentally challenged member of your family can be compared to having a teenager who will never drive for the rest of your life.  Thinking about that makes me weary.

 Professionals who are not able to experience any growth with the people they serve often drop away from their duties because of fatigue or discouragement.  Add to this, funds that are never adequate and tensions regarding continuing rumors of additional cuts.  This is a formula that leads to a professional community who are physically, mentally and spiritually tired.

However, the weariness I’d like to address is what people who are mentally challenged experience each day.  Paul is a new member of our choir.  His disability lies within the autism spectrum.  Even though he is a young adult, his social skills are more limited than most kindergarten children. 

Nervous about his performance in choir, Paul quickly grows weary of the demands required to be a part of this team.  This is when he begins to scratch and even claw at his face and head.  A couple of weeks ago, his face was bleeding by the end of the hour practice and he had reopened an old wound in his scalp. 

Participating in a choir has become the highlight of his life and it is the culmination of a lifelong dream.  Therefore, my efforts are tuned to helping him relax and remain disciplined at the same time.  I tried without success to distract him by asking him to hold a pencil in his hands while singing.  He did it but figured out a way to scratch and hold the pencil at the same time.

Sally lives in another town.  She weeps each time Special Gathering meets because she has started to steal.  It seemed to start only a month ago.  She tried to walk out of a store with a large bag of candy crammed into her pants.  It appears that she was observed on a camera because  two uniformed and armed policemen were waiting for her as she exited the store.  Fortunately, her staff had seen the large bulge in her pants and retrieved the candy before they left the store. 

Over the next week, other incidences happened.  It appears that each time she has attempted, she has been caught.  Punishments has been tried and she seems ready for help.  Yet, each time her cunning has worked the punishments to her advantage.  Even a “scared straight” jail experience did not put a plug into this new pension for thief.

After prayer, last week, her eyes pled with me.  “Am I going to be able to stop now?”  she asked me.  I hugged her and said, “If you really desire to stop, God will help you.”

Compassion is our greatest weapon against weariness regarding our members.  Of course, we need to allow for discipline to take effect.  However, when a member weary of her inabilities comes to us asking for prayer and help, our position is to pour out God’s love and compassion.

What is one way that you’ve found which is effective in showing compassion to a member who has grown weary?  Have you found that delayed punishments are ever effective?

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