A Selfish Request for Honest Conversations
If you aren’t familiar with the Center, it is a nonprofit, free-standing and independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practicalbioethics. For more than 30 years, the Center has helped patients and their families, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and corporate leaders grapple with difficult issues in healthcare and research involving patients. I am so proud that several members of our congregation are involved with this important organization: Myra Christopher is the former President and CEO and still on the staff, Dr. Sandra Stites serves on the Board of Directors, and Rev. George Flanagan is a Center Fellow and formerly on the staff. I saw several other members and friends of our congregation in attendance. On Monday of this last week, I had to fill out a medical advance directive for my husband, Ryan. He was in the hospital at North Kansas City, and they needed a document on file. We have documents at home, but the form was easiest because it was in front of us and immediate. I had to smile when I read the form and saw the small print at the bottom: “This document is provided as a service by the Center for Practical Bioethics.“ I smiled because I was headed to the Center’s annual dinner the very next night.
When I got home from the dinner, my 12-year old son Jacob was up waiting for me. He wanted to know about the evening. We discussed the Center and what our friends there did. It was an interesting conversation…one we’ve had many times before, but it was especially unique given that his dad was spending a third night in the hospital. Ryan wasn’t dying, but Jake knows his parents’ wishes if we should. He has for years. I say this not to use our family as an example, but to remind you that it is my prayer that we will continue to be a congregation where we can be our most real selves. Where we can be truly authentic and have honest conversations. And where we can help one another to do and be that – Authentic. Real.
It is important that you have these honest conversations with your family members about what is important to you. They can be hard talks, I know. But it’s important for you and your family and it’s also important to me. Because if you don’t have those exchanges now…I end up in the middle of those discussions with families later – during stress and crisis moments. So, this is a selfish request (wink, smile). It’s easier on me later if you do it now. The Center has great resources to help begin those talks, and obviously we at Community have people who can help.
This is a first conversation for us around this… you and me. I look forward to more of them.
May it be so. May it be so for us.
— Rev. Shanna
P.S. My Ryan is fine. As I finish this on Friday, we are hopeful to go home tomorrow!
Blog Editor’s Note
Rev. Shanna Steitz is the senior minister at Community Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri. We welcome her contribution to our blog, which was originally published in the church’s May 8, 2016, newsletter under the title, “What I really want to say…”
Rev. Shanna Steitz