Inspiration and Motivation

I was seventeen.  I had been dealing with depression for 7 years.  I was quiet and to myself for the most part.  A girl, 16, began to talk to me on the bus ride to school.  Over time she expressed to me that I was a good listener.  My thought was that I don’t talk because I don’t have much to say.  Well, she opened up one morning that she was being sexually abused by her uncle.  I was hit with a far more wrenching reality than my own.  This was, by far, greater stress and pain than what I was experiencing as problematic personally.  It was like my fantasy, protective, selfish world of “balloon around my existence, all about me, life’s not fair attitude popped”.  Here was someone who needed help and support desperately, crying out before me and my heart was quick to respond.  I told her I would go with her to tell her family and go with her to the counselor.  She wrote me a letter the next day that said she didn’t need me to go with her for she had finally opened up to her mom and was able to go to counseling on her own.  She thanked me for being a friend.

From that point on, I was open in a new way to those around me ready to help anyone that I could.  I heard a rumor that one of the cheerleaders was suicidal.  So what did I do, but drive to her house and rang the doorbell.  I told her what I had heard, that I needed to know if it was true, and that I was there for her.  I would help in any way that I could. She thanked me for caring about her.  At times I would check back with her to see if she was ok.

In the neighborhood where my best friend lived, I began to be a big brother type to kids who lived there playing without parental supervision.  I would check up on them and make sure they were doing ok and listened to their problems.  There was this perceived awareness activated in me that people around me may be experiencing various hardships that needed attending to and that I could somehow be of help to alleviate the pain and lessen its negative impact.

I was compelled to love others who were in need.  Compassion began to grow deep within and a desire to reach out was sparked, fanned, and lit aflame.  My life purpose was to be there for others to encourage them…

I became a day camp counselor for several years working with young children.  One summer, a parent who had a special needs child asked if he could come to camp to learn how to be social with kids his own age.  The park coordinator and director asked if any of us counselors would volunteer to have him in our group.  I volunteered.  He had a communication device that, when buttons were pressed, talked with a robot voice various words and phrases.  Over time, I got to where I understood him without the device.  He seemed to thrive in the overall experience with the care and support given to him.  I would also “be there” for the troubled kids with emotional and behavioral problems and find ways to help them cope better.

I was asked by my high school counselor if I would like to work with a 12 year old who had emotional and social difficulties who was bullied and made fun of.  I became his tutor and mentor for 2 years working in his home.  I learned I could make a positive difference and bring necessary changes in his life mentally through encouragement, emotionally through listening and understanding, socially through taking him on outings in the community to better handle it, physically through working out using weights, and academically through helping him with how to study and learn as he did his homework.

I substitute taught Kindergarten through high school age students while going through college.  I often took on the role of working in a behavior unit with students who were emotionally disturbed.  I learned to interact with them using tact with acceptance and I never had a problem that escalated into physical confrontation while being there.  If they cussed me out, I just listened, tried to understand, and showed I cared for them.  I earned their trust and respect.

Later on, after college, I was substitute teaching in a middle school.  I overheard a 7th grade girl (“D”) talk about committing suicide.  I couldn’t just let it go for I had attempted a year prior where it was still raw and fresh in my psyche. When the bell rang, as class was dismissed, I followed her out the door.  She turned to see me following and walked faster to get away.  She headed into the library and went to sit down at a table at the far end of the room.  I went in and sat down by her.  I talked with her for over an hour encouraging her with how much God loved her, how important her life was, and that she mattered.  Then I asked her if she would go to the counselor if I walked with her and if it was alright to tell the counselor about her struggle.  She agreed.  A couple years passed and I went to an Easter service.  A teacher, sitting next to me, asked if I remembered the girl “D”.  I told her “yes” I did.  The teacher went on to say that “D” told her (at a time when another student at the same school had committed suicide ) that if I hadn’t talked with her, she would have done the same thing in committing suicide.  Another life changing moment…

I went on to work in an emergency shelter for abused and neglected kids.  I thrived in caring for children and youth who had experienced acute trauma in their young lives that no one should have to go through.  I prayed with the kids at night.  I told them, when your nightmares go away, remember to thank GOD.  They would run to tell me the next morning that they didn’t have nightmares.  So thankful and relieved that HE answered my prayers on behalf of these precious ones.

I have gone on to teach special needs students for the majority of my adult life.  Most recently, a former special needs student “T” texted me.  (She would often have temper tantrums, behavior outbursts, and self harm lasting 45 minutes to an hour 3-5 times a day at school.  I often had to restrain her.  Our team was able to help her limit the number of “episodes” she had a week and down to 10-15 minutes in length).  In her text message she asked if I prayed.  I said yes. We talked back and forth about what I prayed about.  Then she wrote something so profound:

“Deep in and a out”

Hmmm.  “Deep in and a out”?…  I got to thinking about what this must mean.  I texted back, “Do you mean  praying for people “Deep in trouble and need a way out”?  She texted back.  “YES!”

I wrote all this to say what inspired me to start this blog and motivates me to reach out with a sense of urgency to help people struggling with mental illness, abuse, and/or suicidal tendencies/ideation in order “to be there” in a supportive, encouraging, and loving manner…

I am praying for you who may be “deep in” and need “a way out“…

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