Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked the opportunity.
Good morning Prayer Team!
Occasionally, I use this venue to ask for prayer requests. This morning, I am writing to you (and many of you live far from my home parish of Tampa) and asking you to pray for a woman in my parish named Anastasia who is waging a brave fight against advanced cancer. It is a critical time in her treatment and all prayers for her are appreciated. Thank you.
The need to be cared for is something innate. We all have a need to be loved. From the time we are babies and are cared for by our parents, we thrive when we have a sense of being nurtured. That doesn’t end just because we become adults. Even adults have a need for acceptance and nurturing. For those who are married, even though you may not think of nurturing your spouse or being nurtured by your spouse as a need, especially if you have children that you are nurturing, it IS, in fact, an innate need that we ALL have.
There are some people who have a hard time accepting kindnesses from others. We are so busy doing that we don’t easily allow others to do for us. While that is admirable for certain, don’t discount your need to be nurtured by others, and when someone offers a nurturing gesture, just say thank you and accept it.
At the same time, God made each of us with an innate ability to nurture others. To care for someone else is not a behavior we have to go out and acquire-it is naturally within us. On that note, human being are innately good. Doing bad things is a learned behavior. If we leave “nature” to its course, we naturally incline to what is good. We naturally incline to God as well.
When the Lord tells us that we must love our neighbor as ourselves, this is not a daunting task, but rather should come easy to us. I suppose the challenge to this is that we are so “busy” and so absorbed with our own needs that we often “forget” about the needs of others.
Spending hours a day in front of the computer, listening to loud music, watching sports on TV-all of these things are learned behaviors, we are not born innately drawn to any of them. In your prayer time this week, think about one “optional” activity in your life that you could scale back on, and one “nurturing” activity that you could increase. This could be something as simple as cutting back on one hour of TV a MONTH and writing a letter or calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to let you know you haven’t forgotten them.
Practice being a nurturer today-be encouraging to those you meet, show empathy and compassion to those who need it-not only to your children, but to your spouse, your friends, you co-workers. We all need nurturing. And we all have the ability to nurture others.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the way You created us. Thank You for giving us the emotional capacity to love others and to feel the love of others. Thank You for making these things a natural part of us. Help me to be more empathetic in my encounters today. Help me to show patience and compassion. Help me to recognize the opportunities to nurture others. Give me the humility to accept nurturing from others. Bless my family, my friends and everyone I will encounter today. Amen.
Have a great day!