What you do (or don't do) matters

 

 

 

 

A young man attempted suicide in 2000 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Just one person stopped him on the bridge that day – a passing tourist who only asked him to take her picture.  He later said, “If one person had shown me an ounce of care, I would not have jumped off that bridge."


Could it really be that easy? Is a simple expression of concern enough to cut through the darkest recesses of a suicidal mind? Turns out, some long-forgotten research from a psychiatric team named Dr. Jerry Motto and Pat Conway at the University of California from the 1960s says “Yes!”  


"If you know that you are going to make a connection, and that you can communicate that you care, that's all that's important," said Pat Conway. In their practice, they started sending simple postcards to their patients after release just asking how they were doing and saying they care. These letters communicated caring and concern, with nothing expected in return. "Just, 'We care.' That's all. 'We care,'" Conway said.


What they found was nothing short of remarkable. In the first two years after leaving the hospital, the suicide rate of those who received the caring letters was about half the rate of those who did not.  


"Probably a lot of people thought that's a bit silly. That's not going to work!"

"We heard people saying, 'Oh you're kidding. How is one letter going to make a difference, or even a series of letters?'"  But it did make a difference. They actually started getting letters back:


"Getting this letter lightened me very much. It is beautiful to get a letter from you."
"Your note gave me a warm pleasant feeling. Just knowing someone cares means a lot."


If dramatic results like that are noted in the professional world with just a sentence or two of caring scratched out on a postcard, just think what the church can do with a body of people whose mission it is to show love and caring in this world.


I often think, “What could I possibly do in my limited little life to accomplish anything that serves God and other people or makes any sort of difference in this world?”


Know that God can and will use you wherever you are in life in ways that you might never guess or ever see the results. What you say or don’t say, what you do or don’t do, and the attitude of your heart makes all the difference.  Jesus left us with very simple instructions. 


“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34


Then James challenges us to put it all into action. 


“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” James 2:14


You may think that you just don’t have the time, resources, or ability to make any sort of difference to others in your day.  But it is way more simple than you think.  Just a smile, a caring word or two, a few minutes to ask how the person is doing, sending a caring text message, checking in on the person who disappeared off Facebook, or the friend who just isn’t acting themselves.


It is not big deep thoughts or debates about theology, just simple love and caring that can be a light to someone’s path or the draw that leads them to the source of Love.  Then one person at a time, we will make a difference in this world.