Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Deep Thoughts on Managing Sadness

The other night (Monday night) I finally did it, I broke down. The kids and I have been here almost three weeks. I have been attempting not to let any of the sad things I am seeing, get to me... at least not in the moment that I see it.

On a number of occasions I have felt myself make a conscious decision not to cry or not to let something affect me.

There are 20 examples. Like the baby with no mom that has not eaten formula for four days. Another one that comes to mind; is the baby up the road. We heard early last week that this little baby girl, about six months old, had been ill and just four days earlier her twin sister had passed away. Pastor Rony asked Troy, and Jason, and I (Jason is the dad/husband of the other Lifeline family serving in Haiti now) to come to the home of the baby and pray with them that evening.

I have never left the gates after dark. Every step feels risky because the ground is so uneven and you cannot see a thing if the moon is not out. We walked just around the corner, what would amount to a block if we were in MN. We got to the little house and the ladies busied themselves getting it ready to invite us in. After a few minutes they invited us in. The house is made of rocks and cement with a piece of tin for the roof. It was approximately 12 X 12 in total. They had a kerosene lamp creating some light so we could see each other. The floor was dirt. The walls were cement. The entire house was smaller than my bedroom and 8 people sleep/live there.

There was only enough room between the two "beds" in the house and the table, for us to stand sort of huddled around the surviving twin baby. Pastor Rony started singing Amazing Grace and Troy and I sort of hummed a long the tune and were glad they had chosen a song we could at least know what the words were & meant. Then Pastor Rony read from Psalms 43 and we followed along in our own Bible. After that we took turns praying for Shenidine (Shhh-nie-Deen). Apparently she had been very ill for a few days and they were all so scared because of her sister's death. WE prayed for healing and good health.

It was a strange place to find myself. It just felt un-real ... if that makes any sense. The gravity of it all felt heavy on my shoulders, but I could still feel myself distancing or pushing back from the situation. I just wanted to pray for her and not fall apart. I tried not to think about my surroundings, they played into the sadness I was feeling for baby Shenidine.

Every sad situation you see, whether it be an infection due to a cut of some sort, or a hungry baby, or a mom with too many kids to feed --- a mentally ill child, a child with HIV, a dad who cannot get together the money to get his wife out of the hospital ... all of those situations are so heavy. I am struggling with dealing with them without letting it completely wreck me in the moment. I want to be compassionate without being a puddle. I don't know if that is weird or normal. Whichever it is, that is where I am right now.

I will cry in private here and there when I need to. I cannot allow myself melt down on a daily basis. Maybe at some point I won't feel the need to, but for now it is all new and shockingly sad. I love these people. I never want to stop feeling for them this way, I just need to find a way to manage it.

So having said all of that, I just needed to bawl last night. So I did. The three littlest kids get so concerned when they see me, or anyone, cry. I had all kinds of back rubs and kisses to comfort me. I had said to Troy "living here is so sad" or something similar ---- and Hope, who is always listening and thinking, said: "Mom, living here is an adventure." I did not even know she knew that word.
That made us laugh.

Thankfully much of the poverty is not recognized by four and two year olds. Hope and Isaac undertand that the feeding program is for kids who are hungry, but beyond that, much of the desolation goes unnoticed by them. Paige crys once a week, which seems to be a coping-plan that works well for her. Britt seems to be pushing back from it when people are around, then dealing with it later.

Little baby Shenidine, who we were priveledged to pray for, is doing much better. Thanks be to God for His protection & healing of her when she was ill. Here she is a few days after we prayed for her. Isn't she a beauty?

~A. W. Tozer:
"Peace of heart that is won by refusing to bear the common yoke of human sympathy is a peace unworthy of a Christian. To seek tranquility by stopping our ears to the cries of human pain is to make ourselves not Christian but a kind of degenerate stoic having no relation either to stoicism or Christianity."