Culture Rescue: The Healing Power of Love
- Michael Lee Stallard President, E Pluribus Partners
- 2012 12 Dec
Editor's note: This is the seventh installment in a series of articles about Christians who rescue cultures. The first installment was The Servant; the second, The Courageous Coach; the third, Saving Our Kids; the fourth, Strength, Courage, Wisdom, and Guidance; the fifth, Prayer Warrior, the sixth, Saving Our Children from Hard Places. We hope that through this series you will be persuaded of God’s call for you to rescue the cultures you are in, that you will get ideas from the examples of others and that you will be encouraged to take action in rescuing the cultures around you.
Some years ago, biologists at the University of California, San Francisco made a remarkable discovery while studying a group of women who cared for their disabled children. The scientists knew that individuals who experience one year under chronic stress typically show physical signs equivalent to six years of aging. Not so with the group of women they were studying. They hadn’t aged rapidly. What made them different? On Christmas day in 1984, a member of the research team discovered hard evidence that explained why.
As is turns out, the women met weekly to share their stories and support one another. They laughed. They cried. They loved one another and felt a sense of connection to the group. The weekly support meetings were triggering the production of an enzyme that was healing the stress-related damage to the women’s bodies. For discovering this healing enzyme they named “telomerase,” the three lead scientists involved in the discovery received the Nobel Prize. In essence, they had discovered biological evidence for the healing power of love.
Nine years ago next month, I learned firsthand about chronic stress and the healing power of love when my wife Katie was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, less than a year after finishing treatment for breast cancer. There were times I struggled with anxiety from worrying that I might lose my beloved Katie, that our two young daughters might lose their wonderful mother, and that she might not see our daughters grow up. During that difficult season, God’s love and the love of our family, friends, and health care workers helped us get through. Today Katie is cancer free and the experience gave me a newfound appreciation for the importance of love and friendship in life.
Last month Katie, her mother and sister, both of whom are also breast cancer survivors, traveled to the campus of Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas, to participate in the “Frogs for the Cure” halftime celebration at the TCU-Kansas State football game. (The TCU mascot is the horned frog.) They were there with our daughters who are students at TCU.
Since 2005, Frogs for the Cure has been led by Ann Louden, a breast cancer survivor who is the TCU Chancellor’s Associate for External Relations. A committee of more than 100 students, faculty, staff, breast cancer survivors and members of the medical community plan Frogs for the Cure activities year-round. The idea of using sporting events to support breast cancer survivors has caught on. After TCU athletics sponsored the first football game dedicated to the breast cancer cause, other sports teams have followed its lead and now celebrate “pink ribbon” games to honor breast cancer survivors.
To date, events at TCU football, baseball, volleyball, and women’s basketball games have raised more than $150,000 for the Greater Fort Worth Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation that supports breast cancer research, screening and education. Just as important as the dollars raised, the Frogs for the Cure events help connect current breast cancer patients and their families with breast cancer survivors. These connections may lead to new friendships that become a source of love in the form of encouragement and support for breast cancer patients and their loved ones.
In 2010, singer/songwriter Tim Halperin, a TCU graduate who was active in the music ministry at Christ Chapel, the church Louden attended, volunteered to write a song for Frogs for the Cure. Although he had never personally experienced the challenges faced by a cancer patient, Halperin was inspired by Louden’s passion. Based on conversations with Louden, the only breast cancer survivor he had ever know, Halperin wrote the song “We Fight Back” in just five days. The remarkable song emphasizes the supportive community that works together to help those who face this disease. “We Fight Back” became so popular that the Komen organization adopted it as its national anthem of hope. Earlier this year, Halperin wrote a second song for Frogs for the Cure and “Cross That Line” was featured at this year’s football game. For both songs, Louden spearheaded the multi-faceted project of having music videos produced, filmed on the TCU campus and featuring breast cancer patients and survivors; TCU students, faculty and staff; and members of the wider community. Hundreds and hundreds of people joined together around this common purpose and you can watch the results here and here.
Louden, Halperin and others provide an outstanding example of Christians who, motivated by love, are blessing others and strengthening culture by bringing people together to love, encourage and support one another through battles with cancer.
Who is God calling you to love and how might you demonstrate that love? Pray that God would clearly show you the good work he has prepared in advance for you (Ephesians 2:10). What’s one action you can take this week to begin rescuing the cultures you are in?
Michael Lee Stallard speaks and teaches seminars on leadership, productivity and innovation at churches, businesses, schools and government organizations. He is president of E Pluribus Partners and the primary author of Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity (Thomas Nelson).
Publication date: December 13, 2012