Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're all in this together

A troubled man is walking down the street, deeply engrossed in his worries. He falls into a deep construction pit. He can’t climb out. He calls for help. Soon a priest comes along. "Father, can you help me?" The priest scribbles a quick prayer and tosses it down. Next, a doctor comes along. "Doctor, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription and tosses it down. Then a common man comes along, he has seen troubles of his own. "Buddy, can you help me?" The man jumps into the pit. "That was dumb, now we're both stuck down here" "Yes", says the second man, "but I've been down here before and I know the way out"
"I'll be in the waiting room when she's ready!" he said in anger as he stormed out. He was picking up his 24 year old daughter from the ER for the second time this week. Her life was heading down a dark path. We had offered her help but she had refused.
It was early morning, the waiting room was dimly lit, he was the only one there as I arrived. He was pacing, yelling at the person in his cell phone. I waited till he was done and then approached him and introduced myself. His fists were clenched, his shoulders raised, his face and voice tense. The triage nurse watched with her finger on the panic button. I told him I was also a father and I had once been where he is. As I shared my story his hands slowly relaxed, his shoulders dropped, his voice became soft. We sat. I had no answers for him but I shared my experience, strength, and hope. I suggested counseling and a support group. I gave him a list of meeting times. He shared his frustration and desperation. In the end he said he'd try a support group meeting in his town in two days. He said he was going to call his ex-wife back and apologize. We shook hands and he took his daughter home.
Did he go to that meeting? Will he seek help? I don't know. I did what I could. I carried the message to him, I feel good that I could do my part. Often we feel that we are the only one who has ever faced a particular problem. We believe others will not understand. There are others just like us out there, they can help.
But it’s not enough to know how to help, we have to be willing to jump down into the hole. We're all in this together.

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