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  • Reverend James Squire

Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!

We have all uttered or heard the call to action, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” I am blessed to have a gifted physical therapist, Mike, who has taken care of my physical challenges due to running or surgery. He also thinks that I am crazy when it comes to rehab! I subscribe to that view that no pain equals no gain. That’s old school now in the PT world. If you are asked to do ten reps, do twenty and you will get back twice as soon to a stronger you. Wrong!

I have a friend who was the CEO of the largest flashlight company in the nation. He was still going to the office as CEO in his nineties. However, he fell and broke his leg after a luncheon and entered a rehab facility. When I called him to ask how he was doing, he told me that he gets up at 6 every morning and does his assigned exercises, and then he repeats them at 8 with his physical therapist. When I asked him why, he said as though it was business as usual, that he thought that if he did it that way, he would leave the facility twice as fast. He was still a hard charger!

When I asked Mike, my PT guy, to give me a program to help me get leg strength back fast, he said that one of the ways to do that was to just stand there in place and don’t move, shuffle or lean. No, I indicated! That’s too easy, I need something better, harder, and quicker to reach the goal. He repeated to just stand there and you will be doing something hard and important. Don’t just do something, stand there. He gave me other exercises but just standing there and not moving proved to be difficult. Try it and you will see. It is better counsel than what my CEO friend and I shared as an approach.

Sometimes what sounds so easy…just stand there…is the most difficult but important thing to do as my PT guy, Mike, advised me. Standing by someone in the good and bad times is important and essential to friendship. Relationships are the context for ethical decisions.

When I think of the lyrics of Stand by Me by Ben E. King, I realize that standing with someone can make the difficult life or moment that another is having bearable:

“When the night has come

And the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we’ll see

No, I won’t be afraid

Oh, I won’t be afraid

Just as you stand

Stand by me.”

I had a former student who asked me to attend his wedding. I immediately assumed that he wanted me to have a role in officiating at the marriage ceremony. He made it clear that he wanted me to be present so he would feel safe as the family of the bride were totally against the marriage and were, to use a phrase, pretty tough customers. I thought he was joking, but he was serious. He said, “I want you to stand in the back so I can see you.” That’s what he wanted me to do. “Don’t just do something, stand there.” I didn’t see that request coming as he was fearless as he passed through our school in the classroom and on the athletic field. The marriage is still going strong and he has achieved success in his professional life as well. He still runs and is meticulous in keeping his times. He and the family of his spouse have reconciled.

There have been many moments in my life and I am sure for you, the reader, that we have done the important work of supporting someone when there are high stakes for a friend or acquaintance. They don’t want us to do anything but to stand by them as you join them when they are getting important news about a serious medical report or where they feel threatened or abandoned by the world around them. That is sacred territory that demands an ethical response.

The family of the bride left the service in a bit of a huff before the wedding service was completely over. When my former student was coming down the aisle with his now wife, he looked over at me standing in the back, got a smile on his face, and nodded that said I’m OK.

I told him when we connected later that I wasn’t very good about just standing there and not doing something more to be helpful. He commented, “You stood there. That is exactly what I needed.” He reads my blogs so he is probably having a smile on his face when he reads this.

Seemed easy to do in a hard moment for him. I guess my PT guy, Mike, was right again. He always reminds me not to double up on the exercises every time he gives them to me. I am learning about muscle fatigue if I don’t listen to him.

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