For some reason a simple lesson popped into my head today as I wrote this, of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Luke 15) We reviewed this with our first and second graders at church two weeks ago. One of the other ministry leaders looked at our small group of children and said, Now remember this isn’t a story about sheep. It’s a story that Jesus told to people who understood sheep, and he used it to help them understand the character of God. I was reminded of the character of God. He is not one to brush off a human life or to forget. Each and every one of us matter, and he will search for us. Today was a good day to be reminded of this simple lesson.
Do you ever wonder if you are the only person who loves someone who is experiencing homelessness? Selfishly, I do. Intellectually I understand. I get it. I know that I am not the only person who knows what this feels like, but emotionally, I sometimes feel like I am.
I have decided that there is not enough Al-Anon material in the universe that can help calm my heart. I can read and re-read the information until my brain matter oozes out of my ear canals, but it cannot fix it. Time ticking by doesn’t cure or erase heartache and grief and there is no substitute that can adequately fill an empty, human-shaped space. It’s always there. It’s easy for me to alleviate the pain by shifting my focus to my day-to-day. The sounds of my three rambunctious children running back and forth down the hallway laughing, the fighting over things like control over remotes, or the whistle of Nerf bullets zipping past my face, their school projects or homework, preparing dinners, running errands, and our loosely implemented daily routine, all serve as deterrents. For me the gaping hole feels most prominent at the end of the night when all is quiet in my house. It slowly creeps in, making its way to the forefront of my mind while I am trying to focus on my mommy time. Whether I am writing, sneaking chocolate, or catching up on my favorite show, I feel it begin to move in.
Loving someone who is sick feels a lot like parenting to me. I try to handle this situation with care, and intent, acting on his best interest. My thought process is not usually well-received or understood but it doesn’t need to be, and if experience has revealed anything to me it is that sometimes you have to take a few steps back and let them make mistakes, and feel the ramifications of their decisions, despite having to hold yourself back from preventing them pain or distress.
I would love nothing more than to make it better for him. I stand back at a safe distance wishing that he knew how badly I want to be that person in his life. Wouldn’t that be the easiest route to take? It would bring to me an overwhelming sense of relief to be the one holding the key to his freedom, but I have found through trial and (lots) of error, I don’t hold that key for him or anyone else. While time has proven to be an ineffective tool for healing, it does always delivers on teachable moments if you’re open to observing. It seems I cause more emotional damage to myself and for him when I reach out. As the years have gone by and the situation deteriorates more and more, well beyond what any of us ever imagined it could, or would be allowed, any help I could offer would be counter-productive to an already dire situation.
Dire, but not hopeless and that is why I am not giving up on him. Hope.
I might feel stuck and sometimes my brain becomes inundated with questions for myself like, Would it really be okay if something happened and I had to live knowing that I chose not to intervene?, Could I survive with the guilt I would carry with me?, Did I do enough?, or Did he know that I loved him?, but I am not hopeless.
I had an ugly cry today during nap time (and also about twelve mini-Reese’s to make sure I had something else to feel guilty about), and I chose to move forward with my day. I have said this before, I am not his person. I wish I could be. I would love it if I were, but I am not. I am confident that the same God that rescued me will use someone to intervene, and when the time is right, he will choose to stand up and walk a different path. Until then I will wait in limbo, as patiently as one can, holding onto the hope that I have discovered to be reliable and real, and I will continue to utilize my online platform to purge my most uncomfortable feelings, in hopes to bring comfort to someone else. I know we’re not alone.