I was sitting with one of my beautiful Hospice patients last week, providing the gift of ‘presence’ to a lonely Alzheimer’s patient, when she looked at me and said with unusual clarity, “You are a God-Whisperer!” I was so taken aback, as this is a lady who generally only speaks in ‘word-scramble’ and is usually what we term as ‘aware of self only.’ But I immediately fell in love with the term – and I’m claiming it! What a gift this person gave to me ~ an acknowledgement that I truly do make a difference in my patient’s lives.
I have learned over time through my patients that the worst thing isn’t being lonely ~ it is being forgotten! So many of my patients with Alzheimer’s have been left on their own by their family, because family members often think that the patient doesn’t know they are present anyway. But just like in the movie, “The Notebook,” there are moments of clarify within patients with cognitive deficits – and those times are truly special for family as well as for the patient. A light glows from within the patient as a moment of clarity opens up for them, and when family is there, it is such a gift for everyone in the room. But Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease to watch, and because of that, family often stop in to visit from time to time and may stay for only a few moments with their loved one. Such a loss for the patient – and the family members.
As I pondered the focus of the authors in the book, Who Needs Theology, the answer to this question is, of course, everyone! If someone is a thinking person who reflects on life’s ultimate questions and who is a Christian, they are doing theology. The authors noted that if you seek to understand the meaning of faith for answering life’s ultimate questions or simply answering basic questions about growing in relation to God, you are a Christian theologian. The ancient Athenian philosopher Socrates held the motto that ‘the unexamined life isn’t worth living.’
Theology comes from two Greek words: theos, which means God, and logos, which means thought. So, theology means ‘God thought.’ Yet, how do we know how God thinks? Well, obviously the Bible is our blueprint. I also love sharing stories with my patients about God’s love to help them understand whom they are in Christ. One story I often share is a story about when I was widowed when I was young – very unexpectedly and for which I was very unprepared. But this story has always been precious to me – and I’ve shared it often with my patients as well as at their funerals.
When I was widowed with a young family, my life was very confused. One day, someone asked me which of my children was my favorite. I think they meant who was easiest or who helped the most, but that was not what they asked. The question was “who is your favorite?” My response was a Holy Spirit impartation, I truly believe, because it was immediate, and I answered, “whoever needs me most right at that moment in time is my favorite!” I share that story often with my patients, as I truly believe that when we are at our weakest, God is at His strongest. And so, I get to help hurting individuals know that – at that exact moment in time – they are God’s favorite!
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Theology is faith seeking understanding. A final quote from author Jen Pastiloff, which clarifies what I strive for as a final title for my life on this earth: “When I get to the end of my life and ask one final, ‘What have I done?’ ~ let my answer be: I have done LOVE!”
 Stanley Grenz and Roger Olsen, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 24
 Ibid, 26.
 Ibid, 14.
 Ibid, 24.