Have you noticed a change in pace lately? In your life? In the world? Over the last few months I’ve felt a quickening; as if this small, hurdling piece of rock we're all living on has begun to spin just a bit faster.
Everywhere I turn it seems so many I know are facing the impossible. Young mothers (and by young I mean my age of course) hearing the word cancer from a doctor; couples longing for just one (or just one more) child; sick, sick babies; physically, spiritually, and emotionally broken hearts; working mothers who wish they didn’t have to; jobless fathers who wish they could lose the “less”. It seems everyone is fighting a battle.
I find myself asking where has all this trial and challenge been until now? Is it really possible that in my former happy-go-lucky life I failed to understand the depth of others’ struggles? Is it really possible that I assumed we were all living different versions of my intensely blessed existence?
I remember apologizing to some close friends following McKay’s birth. It was two days before Thanksgiving and we were in the waiting room receiving hourly updates from the surgical staff about McKay’s second heart surgery when a dear friend stopped by to offer support. No basket of goodies, no cards, no pretense. He was just there to sit and be with us.
Something in my heart broke when I saw him as my mind flooded with memories that not so long ago his newborn son spent a good deal of time in the ICU due to some complications with his lungs following birth. Of course, I made the standard visit to adore the precious babe and applaud his brave mother, but never called again. Honestly, I didn’t even know how long his son was made to stay until I spoke to them over a month later. Even then, I did not feel the weight of my neglect.
In that moment, in that simple and Christ-like visit from a friend, my eyes were opened to the opportunity I missed. They too had come home with empty arms. They too wondered if the night nurse would know exactly how to comfort their son. They too were torn between nurturing children at home and being beside one in the hospital. I cried. I asked his forgiveness. All I could offer by way of explanation for my inaction was that up until McKay, I didn’t understand. I’m so sorry, I truly did not know.
Now I know more. I feel like someone has turned on radar in my soul that was previously unused. I sense more heartache. I understand pain. I relate to helplessness. But at the same time I also know vastly more about joy. I have an intimate relationship with trust. Now, more than ever, I am reaching beyond faith and feel as if I’m getting to know my Savior as a friend. I no longer bargain with him or leave my verbal dribble of an offering at His door and run. We are in constant conversation and my life is different because of it. I want to be better. Do better. And, surprisingly, that doesn't always mean more plates of cookies, more gifts. The more I look back on what I needed and the needs I now see in others it is just giving that person time and opportunity to talk, to debrief, to process. Less about me--what I'm giving, doing, being-- and more about them.
I am not entirely thrilled about leaving my blissful ignorance, but I am amazed at the others I am finally being made to see. Sometimes the lessons others are made to endure are heavy and hard to watch. However, I am always left with the reassuring feeling that none of it is random. There is an order to things. Even when they are hard things—there is order. Yes, my world is spinning a little faster these days, but certainly not out of control. My experiences have given me new eyes, an increased awareness, and I am learning how to use it.