I knew it would, and I had been trying to figure out how to respond to it when it did, but, when it actually happened, I still didn’t have a clue.
See, there’s this thing, going around on Facebook where people dump water over their heads in support of a horrible degenerative disease that goes by the initials ALS, and since over half my Facebook friends are kids, well, I was gonna get nominated to dump ice over my head at some point, sooner or later.
But see, I’m in this thoughtful season of life, when I want to think about everything before I do it. So, I wanted to know where I actually stood on this “challenge” thing before I simply lemming-style dumped five gallons of ice on me – in public (well, filmed, and then posted on Facebook, so the modern form of public). I know, I know, I’m probably over-thinking it. Or, as my brother would affectionately say, I’m “femaling it up”.
But I didn’t want to just mindlessly dump water over my head. And no, it’s not because it’s cold.
See, I want my kids to think through something before they do it. And if I want that from them, then I need to model it.
And I’m not really sure of the best response. See, ALS is a degenerative disease where you lose control of everything. And that’s horrible. And if pouring a bucket of ice over my head will help someone research it and come up with a cure – great. Pour five buckets over my head. But see, pouring a bucket over my head means that I’m not giving money to fund that person to go find that cure. So, I should give money. Which I’d do if I had any (being a student will take all the money you’ve got – and then some). But even then, even still, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it. Because, see, if I simply give money, than I can be done. I don’t have to think about it anymore. I can say I did my part and go dive back into school papers, or hiking in the mountains, or drinking coffee with one of my teens.
But that’s not really what we’re called to do as Christians. We’re called to sit with each other in our pain. We are called to help someone out – to take care of them – no matter what. To stay there, where they are. Not to throw money at them and then walk away. Not to say, “Hey, look how much I care; I’m pouring water over my head” and then walk away. I’m called to befriend those in pain, those who are uncomfortable, those who will ask much of me because they can’t give anything back.
So, how do I do that? I don’t know anyone with ALS. Do I go find someone who has ALS? Do I just accept that God hasn’t put anyone in my life with ALS and focus on the people He has put in my life – and their needs?
Truth is – I don’t know. I could dump a bucket of water over my head in solidarity or something, sure. But…doesn’t that just bring more attention to me than to the thousands suffering? I mean somewhere the video label will say ALS on it, and so everyone will know I care…but do I, really?
The only answer that comes to mind, as I wrestle with this, is one that feels trite because it has been a Christian cop-out so often – prayer.
I don’t know anyone with ALS; I don’t have anything to give; I don’t really believe pouring a bucket of watery frigidness will do any good, so what do I have?
I have God. I have prayer. And, in the long run, assuming I actually pray and ask God to do a work – in my heart at the very least – that might be the most powerful thing I could do.
Note – if I felt God was calling me to do something about ALS specifically, this would be different. Maybe I’ll talk about that next week.