Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Little Lost in Another's Pain

I sit at the keyboard and move about in cyberspace visiting one blog after another, reading what other people are writing about this week. A few people write about Lent, another about her current book and still another about decorating her bathroom. I certainly don't know what to write about today. It isn't because I have nothing to write; I think it is more that I am flooded with feelings about other people's hurts. As my husband might say, “You are a counselor, you should know how to work through these things.” Maybe I do, maybe I don't.

Sometimes I am just too up close to let go. There are times in our lives when too many people we care about are hurting all at once and we just plain get flooded with emotion. First I must pray: I pray for my mom and step-dad who are making their way through the rugged terrain of Parkinson's and its surprising but strategic attacks on various bodily functions. My heart is heavy for my mother as she describes the day's progress or regress as she observes the slow process of moving from this life to the next. I am not trying to sound morbid, but I grew up in a family who accepts death as a natural part of living, though the hard journey is not necessarily anticipated with great joy.

There is a client for whom my heart weighs in heavy. Can I help her? Does she even want to be helped right now? Though it is best to remain detached I find it difficult to care enough to get invested in someone's painful story without getting a little bit lost myself. You may find this unhealthy; I think it is just one of the pitfalls of being a counselor (or human being) who cares. I must not let it overtake me, but sometimes it takes longer to detach. I do my best to let go for a few days and remember God has her in His hands.

At the end of the week there is Saturday, a day for self-care and little projects; Friday and Sunday, bookends of the weekend, offer a much needed pause from the care-taking of others to do home things giving my mind and heart a break from the heaviness. I don't stop caring, merely refocus my energy. There is something about mundane home tasks: cooking, cleaning, puttering, bringing bits of order here and there, reading and doing a bit of handwork that washes comfort over a tired spirit like a warm cup of tea. It soothes me. It brings perspective to these sad stories I drop down into throughout the week. It is up to me to find ways to open the pages of renewal and hope so that I may come back to bookmarked difficulties with an objective, untangled and hopeful heart.

You know what gives me joy? It is remembering I serve the Living Hope, 1 Peter 1:3. No matter what we face in this life we serve the Living Hope, the resurrected Christ, the joy of Easter. I was challenged last week by Jennie Allen's questions in her Chase study: “Do we just confess an intellectual belief in God or is He real enough to impact our circumstances? . . . When life closes in, what will you believe about God, and what do you believe Him for?” So when the burdens seem heavy, people's stories take a turn for the worse, and I am feeling inadequate, I must ask myself these questions. And then I must open my eyes and watch in eager anticipation as His Spirit works to make beauty out of brokenness and pain. Do you have a worry or heartache weighing you down? I pray you will find peace and hope by opening your heart and allowing it to be poured out into the Creator's hands, the One who weaves everything into His perfect and beautiful master plan. And watch in eager anticipation to see what He makes of it, or of you.

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