I haven’t written for a while. I have felt overwhelmed by all that’s been going on in the world. Devastating natural disasters that have left thousands of people reeling. Mass shootings. Terrorist attacks. And political divide the likes of which I have never seen.
We are literally in a world of hurt.
The pain of our brothers and sisters across the globe is profound. They are suffering. We are suffering. As a collective humanity, we are grieving. Many are mourning the death of someone they loved. They are trying to make sense of the senseless. They are broken in ways that are irreparable. Broken so as when the pieces are glued back together, they will never be the same. My heart aches for them.
And many are grieving the loss of innocence. Of a time, whether real or perceived, when life seemed simpler. Less fraught with uncertainty and fear. I know this is certainly true for me. Prior to my husband’s arrest, I had not experienced significant trauma in my life. But on that day, and as events unfolded in the following months, I began to feel the physical and emotional symptoms of trauma. Feeling highly anxious and on edge twenty-four hours a day. Experiencing an exaggerated startle response at the littlest things. Emotionally and physically exhausted and yet I could not sleep. And these are the things that I have been experiencing again in the past weeks.
I recognize that there are many in the world who live with uncertainty and fear every single day of their lives. The unrelenting terror of war or poverty or racial atrocities is unimaginable to me. To compare my trauma to theirs would be inappropriate, and I will not do so. I only know that pain does not discriminate.
So how do we move forward? How do we go from fear and uncertainty to feeling like we are on firmer ground? How do we find hope in times when we feel powerless and insufficient? I would submit to you that the answer lies in being of service to one another.
When I wrote Casseroles and Compassion, I was just beginning to climb out of my own darkness and gain a greater understanding of the fear that my friends and neighbors were feeling as they processed the news that Stephen had been arrested for drug trafficking. They needed my compassion just as much as I needed theirs. I began to learn that helping to ease someone else’s burden made my own burden feel lighter.
My sister lost her young, vibrant, wonderful husband to ALS shortly before Stephen was arrested. We had both lost a spouse, in very different ways, yet we had much in common in our grief. We were feeling a pain that neither of us had previously experienced. As the younger sister, I watched and listened as she navigated this new territory, and I hoped that she could somehow pave the way for me. Her heart was truly broken and yet, to get outside of her own pain, she served others. Every week she went with a local group to the underside of a bridge in her city where many homeless people would gather for shelter. And, in a most humbling act of service, she washed their feet. Wounded and grieving, she served other suffering souls in the kindest of ways. My sister understood, and helped me to learn, that being of service can help us heal our own wounds and put us on a path to restoring joy in our own lives.
So I’m asking you to join me as I look for ways to bring comfort to a world that is hurting. I know that others need my compassion as much as I need theirs. I know that there are suffering souls to my left and to my right who need a burden lifted. And I know that there is hope. Always.