How to Love Your Neighbor Who is Suffering
When Darci caught my attention on Instagram we started chatting. We quickly figured out that we live in the same state, and it only took a few messages before we figured out that she’s good friends with one of my good friends. We already knew we both loved Jesus and our neighbors, so I’m just delighted that Darci took the time to share this guest post with us all.
When someone well-acquainted with suffering tells us how we can help, we must listen.
How to Love Your Neighbor Who is Suffering
Guest Post by Darci J. Steiner
As I sat staring out my bedroom window at the random houses in view, I thought about each of their stories. I was broken, unable to move, and in excruciating pain. My suffering consumed every moment except for when I prayed. So, I prayed a lot. I prayed for the unseen brokenness inside of each home. My eyes shifted from one house to the next, praying for their stories, unbeknownst to me—but God knew. There must be some people hurting as much as me.
I have a severe nerve pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). The syndrome causes my body to overfire pain signals to my brain, making me think I have more pain than I do. When I was cleaning up after my oldest daughter’s wedding, a heavy wooden chair slid down from leaning against a wall and hit my ankle. It should have been a simple sprained ankle, but after 3.5 years, I’ve only begun to walk again, and I cannot drive. When I walk, I feel as if corkscrews are piercing through my feet. I can take only so much pain before I must sit. But even then, I hurt.
I realized how many of my neighbors I don’t know, and even the ones I do—I don’t know deeply about their sufferings. I’m sure suffering people inhabit each home, whether they are going through trials of physical adversity like me, divorce, financial stress, addictions, pornography, infidelity, infertility, grief, depression, loneliness, anxiety, children struggling in school, and so on. All of us suffer, and all of us need friends.
The weeks of sitting by my bedroom window praying for my neighbors instilled in me a willingness to be an initiator of gathering a group of women together to support one another, no matter what each of us is going through.
I have begun a group called Reflections Women’s Group—a gathering place for women to share in life together, whether we bake Christmas cookies, discuss the Bible, serve others in need, or sit on someone’s deck and talk.
Our group is for believers and unbelievers open to learning about Jesus. Some of us do not attend church, and others attend different churches because the church should not have walls that separate, but instead relationships that unify.
For those who want to love neighbors going through physical suffering,
we sometimes feel we don’t know what to do or don’t want to interrupt a possible nap.
Trust me; you aren’t interrupting.
Or if you are, dare to go back!
If you know someone who has been recently diagnosed with a condition, or you see their obvious physical suffering, do something. If all you can think of is knocking on their door to introduce yourself, you have just made a difference in their day. People who are physically hurting often can’t do things for themselves, so if you then say, “Can I change a lightbulb for you, make you some lunch, get the remote from under the couch, let your dog out, or get you some water?” These are all things I could’ve used help with while my husband Mark was at work.
Just show up. If you show up, things will become apparent—you don’t need to have a plan—the plan will unfold before your eyes.
If you are suffering, and someone shows up at your door, graciously invite them in to help themselves to some water. Then humbly let them help you. Recently, at one of my book signings, one of my neighborhood friends said to me, “If you need anything, let me know!” I grabbed her hand in gratitude and said, “Actually, would you be willing to take me to another brick-and-mortar store to see if they will also carry my book?” She beamed a smile and said, “I would love to! When would you like to go?” Now we have a friendship time set that will not only serve a need I have, but we have a time together where I plan to pour into her and learn about her deeper story. I want to give to her, too, in ways God has enabled me.
Let us serve one another, for in doing so, we love our neighbors and love God. There is no greater love we are called to than to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. We can’t do one without the other.
Darci J. Steiner has served in the ministry as a teen and women’s ministry leader, as well as assisted with church plants in Denver and Los Angeles. In 2001, Darci nearly lost her life after a debilitating fall. During her recovery, she earned her Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition and implemented natural remedies into her lifestyle that helped save her life.
When Darci became disabled a second time after a foot injury in 2018, she wrote her debut book, Beauty Beyond the Thorns: Discovering Gifts in Suffering and its companion study guide. She is an inspirational speaker and nutritionist.
Darci and her husband have two adult daughters and a baby granddaughter. They live in the Denver area.