But this week was particularly hard. We buried a client. Everyone is distraught. I am distraught, on top of being weary...and I feel the additional burden of trying to carry hope into the scene, and sometimes that is just hard. How do you insert hope in the midst of tragic grief? I poured out all the love and compassion I had. I served where I saw need that I could fill.
I felt the exhaustion particularly in the mornings later in the week. I was awake but not awake for the first few hours of the day. By Friday, I just downright felt like I was running on fumes, and I really wasn't sure how I was going to make it through three groups...one of which can be particularly challenging. So, I prayed, and the morning went REALLY well.
I just had that last group to hurdle, and I could finally head toward recovery. But when I showed up, the teacher pulled me aside to explain that one of the kids I had served in this group the month prior had be murdered outside her school. I was not unfamiliar with the story...it was all over the news, but I had not made the connection. My heart breaks in a new way now. It breaks with a little more understanding...a little more familiarity...a little more reality. My grief opens up to include the pain of people I did not previously know were affected. Hurting people. Aching people. Searching, grieving people.
Ironically, the last lesson had been on conflict resolution. I wish I had been more effective. But, the knowledge of what these kids had been through so recently made me feel it ever more important to bring light and love into that classroom.
The teacher warned me as we walked in, "Just a head's up...that kid in the back corner asked if this was going to be boring, and if it is, he is going to let you know."
I laughed, "Well...it won't be a first."
So, I bounced real bubbly-like into the class and announced, while looking that kid straight in the eye and smiling profusely, "Hello! I have an extremely boring lesson for you, today. I'm really hoping to be the most boring possible." Kid starts laughing. I pull out legos and a bag of candy. "Oh, and I have candy for those who participate, because I am not above bribery."
Kid shouts, "What?!!! We gotta PARTICIPATE to get the candy."
"Yep. That's how bribery works."
We continued with the lesson on communication - giving and following directions. The kids built structures from the blocks behind a screen and then had to use verbal instructions to teach the rest of us to build the exact structure. Guess who was the first to volunteer? Yep. My new buddy.
I ended the long, difficult, heartbreaking week with a victory, and I'm going to choose to be grateful for that and put my faith in Romans 8:24, "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?" 'Cause it is really hard to SEE the hope in all of the brokenness I witness and experience every day. But I have enough life experience and evidence to trust in a God who is good and who has this ALL in His care.
So, I'm gonna keep adulting and praying my way through the pain I absorb in order to be a beacon to those who might need it. I am not unfamiliar with grief and sorrow, and, after all, what kind of a person would I be if I didn't use that to help others learn to heal and overcome? This is my fulfillment, and this is my call. There is, really, no other option.