"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, July 31, 2015

Compassion Over Contempt

A while back, I saw a depiction of a man yelling at God, telling Him about all the horrible things happening in the world. Human suffering, war, natural disasters, etc. He says to God "Why have you just sat back and done nothing while people on earth are so broken?" And God says to Him "I haven't done nothing. I sent people like you to help others."
You can interpret that one of two ways. Either God is a lazy jerk who expects humans to do all the work, or He is a wise God who expects humans to lift each other's burdens. I choose to believe the latter.
I've spent an average of one day a week since last September at therapy with Devin. He goes to a children's trauma center here in Salt Lake that caters exclusively to children who have been through hell. A lot of the kids have been taken out of abusive homes, some have been in bad situations in the foster system, some have parents who are drug addicts and have gone to prison, some are sexual victims, some have been abandoned, and many have experienced the death of a parent or sibling. I remember back in August when Devin "qualified" to be treated there and it felt surreal that our family was now a statistic in the books. We belonged with all of the other people we saw come in and out of that place.
In the first two months after Garrett died, Devin was all but mute. He had turned completely inward and he actually exhibited most of the signs of severe autism. Of course he was not autistic, but it felt very much the same. Those first few weeks of therapy were terrible and I would leave every day in tears, feeling like I had lost not only Garrett, but Devin as well. But through the miracle work of his therapist (who soon became a cherished friend), the old Devin began reemerging fragment by fragment. We still have a long way to go, but we have come far since this time last year.
Because I spend so much time at the center with him, I have the chance to observe many people coming in and out of that place. A few weeks ago I sat in the waiting room with two women who must have been in their late fifties or early sixties. They had three tiny children with them, and I gathered that the kids were siblings. All of them looked frazzled and tired and shaken. I couldn't help but hear what the ladies were saying to each other and I soon put the pieces together that they were the children's grandmothers. I looked at the kids who were about five, three, and one. The oldest child's eyes had a hollow look to them and he acted a lot like Devin acted when Garrett died. I sat there and watched this group and wondered where the children's parents were. Had they been killed? Did they run away and abandon the kids? Had they been sent to prison? whatever the circumstance, I could tell by looking at these people that their world had been shattered.
I came across something similar today. As I sat in the waiting room, in walked a man who had three little boys in tow. One was a baby in his arms, and the others were preschoolers. Two of the kids were in their pajamas, the man hadn't shaved in days, and he looked like he hadn't slept in at least as long. He had a big diaper bag on his shoulder and he was sweet and patient with the boys, but he was exhausted and he too had that broken look about him. He sat with the fussy baby on his lap and he tried to soothe the boy and I could only imagine what was happening in his mind. I wondered where the children's mother was, and whom I could only infer was, the man's wife. I silently wondered what had happened in their world to get them in waiting room.
And then I thought back to a woman and a four year old boy who walked through those doors on a day last September. The mother had lost her youngest son in a drowning accident only weeks before. The little boy witnessed the death of his best friend. Both of them were plagued with nightmares out of a horror movie and the mother and son were disconnected from everything around them. The boy didn't talk, didn't make eye contact, and never smiled. He startled at loud noises and was scared of his own shadow. He hid under a chair in the waiting room and was terrified when the therapist came out to meet him.
As I think about the massive amount of human suffering that walks in and out of those doors every day, I can't help but think about the therapists, staff, and volunteers who work there and welcome the broken hearted in with open arms. I think about Devin's therapist who has one of the most kind, compassionate, and empathetic souls of anyone I've ever met. People who go into that profession will never be wealthy and will probably never drive fancy cars or have the money to go on extravagant vacations. They do what they do because they take responsibility to help alleviate the suffering of others. THEY are the ones God sent here in His stead. It pains my heart to go there each week and be surrounded by broken people like us. But it also helps heal my heart when I am surrounded by people who work there, who love us, and who are cheering our family on.
Devin had a good session today, but as soon as we got in the car to go home he asked to listen to "From Where You Are" by Lifehouse. Give the song a listen and you'll know right away why it's a Garrett song. When Devin asked for it, I hesitated because I knew it would make him sad. But I also know I'm supposed to follow his lead with his grief. I turned the song on, and he immediately turned somber and he started to cry. Then he wanted the song on repeat and we listened to it for the twenty minute drive home. It was oh so painful, glancing in the rear view mirror to see his face red and swollen and covered in tears. I sobbed as I drove, and my heart felt like it would burst. Why, why, WHY does my child have to endure this? Why do my other children and my husband and myself have to endure this? Why did God do this to our family? Why doesn't He come in and take the pain away or turn back the clock? Why doesn't He FIX THIS??!! Why is this our life?! Why don't I have my Garrett?! Why doesn't Devin have his soul mate?!
As I drove, I didn't get an answer to my plea. But I did think of that Dad in the waiting room, all disheveled and shattered, and I thought that the only thing I have control over in this life is how I treat people. How I make people feel. How I can help alleviate their suffering. I can't turn back time and change what happened to my family, but I can learn from this how to better help other people. I can be kind and smile at strangers. I can be patient rather than react when I'm met with a rude person at the store. I can stop and think that maybe something happened to them to make them that way. I can practice compassion rather than contempt. I can work a little harder to be God's instrument, and to make the sun shine just a little brighter in the life of another.

1 comment:

GramainTexas said...

Veronica, Never stop writing ❤️