Faith Flags and Faith Stories
It is customary, when a foreign ship comes into port, to raise the flag of the country to which it belongs, making it evident where its allegiance lies. In the same way, it is possible for Christian health-care workers to "raise a flag" by letting others know they believe in God. Faith flags are short statements that identify believers but do not require further conversation. It allows an opportunity for the patient or family to respond if they would like, but the faith flag stands alone if needed.
- I'm going to change your dressing, Mrs. Jones... Things are looking much better. Isn't it incredible how God has made our bodies to heal and restore themselves?
- What a beautiful morning God has given us!
- (In reply to the question, "How are you?") "I am blessed."
A faith story is used when a patient or family member is experiencing deep emotions and is in need of encouragement. It is said that all the human emotions can be boiled down to five basic feelings: mad, sad, glad, fear, and shame. Sometimes when we are talking to another, we may feel so overwhelmed by his or her story that we think we cannot possibly relate to his or her pain. One way to help is to identify which emotion is predominant in his or her story. Think of a time when that emotion was present in your life, then share how God helped you through that difficult time. It is important that this not become a way of diminishing one's pain by moving the focus away from him or her. Your story of help should be short on details with a strong focus on God's strength or comfort.
- Last year, I went through some difficult times and found myself really struggling with depression. I was sitting at home one evening after work, really discouraged about life. I opened the mail and a good friend had sent me a note with this verse: "'I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"Jeremiah 29:11 It was such a comfort to be reminded that God has a plan for my life and was a turning point in my journey.
- One of the times when I was really afraid was when I was having cancer surgery. I remember lying in bed the night before the surgery, nearly paralyzed by fear. I wondered if I would wake up from anesthesia. I wondered if I would suffer from complications. I wondered if I would live to see my children grow up. I've never heard God speak audibly to me, but lying there, a verse came to my mind so distinctly that I believe it was a message from God. The words were:, "I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20) It wasn't as if God told me everything would be fine. But He promised to be with me through it.