But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. —Matthew 14:27
Jesus encourages his followers by telling them to take “heart” or “courage.” We seek inspiration to quell our fears when we have to face illness or the possibility of death. Scripture reminds us to use our faith and trust God when we face the unknown.
Many of us don’t know what to do when we or someone we love has significant health concerns. One thing we can do is to plan for the unknown, to give ourself and our family the gift of Advanced Care Planning (“ACP”). ACP is a process of deciding what you do — and do not — want for your health care choices when you can not speak for yourself. The outcome of ACP is a legal document that has replaced “living wills” in our health care system. The benefit of ACP is that it communicates our health care choices to our families, doctors and hospitals.
ACP is a gift we can give ourselves whether we’re 18 or 88 because it means we can live peacefully, knowing our wishes will be carried out. It’s a gift to our families because they can live with the assurance that they are carrying out our explicit choices. It’s a gift to our health care professionals so they can know what we want. It’s also a gift to the community because the courageous conversations that occur when we discuss our choices, as well as the beliefs and values that drive our choices, with the people we love.
Most of us procrastinate on having this courageous conversation about care choices for 3 reasons: (1) we believe we’ll have enough time to talk if something were to happen to us; (2) we already have a “living will” or a “5 Wishes” document; and (3) who wants to talk about future calamity?
First, since we can’t predict our future, we won’t have the time we need to prepare ourselves, our families and our doctors. Second, most doctors and hospitals no longer find “living wills” or “5 Choices” documents to be useful in making health care decisions. Third, planning for our health care choices can lead us to talk about what we cherish and value about life rather than talking about death or disease. Many people who’ve gone through an ACP process remark that they initially avoided it because they worried that talking about death and illness would be morbid. However, they were pleasantly surprised to find it was a life-giving, affirming and deeply spiritual time with the people they loved.
Part of our call at Wayzata Community Church is leading an Advanced Care Planning ministry. We encourage these courageous conversations because we recognize that life will change tomorrow. If you want to discuss how you might start a courageous conversation about your values and how they affect your health care choices, contact Lindy Purdy at: 952-473-8877 ext. 202.