Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Let Your Light Shine

Today I experienced a broken heart.
It wasn't anything from a loved one.  It wasn't anything personal.
I feel strangely moved in a way I never thought possible.

 Mercy & Compassion
Those are my words for Lent 2018.  It's kind of funny because when I shared my excitement over looking at Lent through the lens of mercy & compassion that Jesus showed to us with my oldest daughter she had an interesting reply.  "So momma are you adding your name to the list you plan to show more mercy & compassion to?" I'm not necessarily strong in the area of self compassion, I tend to carry an unnecessary amount of feeling responsible for things not my fault and feeling like I don't do enough for those I love. My compassion for others generally flows freely from my heart and I thought I did pretty good until I went to the Bentonville Homeless gathering and then heard the Ash Wednesday service offered by Rev. Eric Meyer at FUMC.  Both had a similar tone about seeing others from the panhandler at your exit, the lady who is your waitress at your favorite spot, or other regular service provider. Seeing them, acknowledging their existence, a warm smile, a kind word...no one expects you to solve their problems, simply show them the same mercy and compassion that Jesus through his actions and stories strived to teach us!

Today I had a rare opportunity. I accompanied someone on a visit to the OU Medical Center Campus in Oklahoma City.  Specifically the third floor of the G. Rainey Williams Pavillion-this is the area dedicated to psychiatry and behavioral sciences for children and adults. We walked through the heavy door and I immediately felt very uneasy, I felt like I had stepped into a movie setting the walls, floors and ceilings were all white. The check-in ladies were behind glass window across from an expansive desk.  We were directed to a waiting room that was smaller than my living room with a dozen chairs, a table, a water dispenser and a coffee pot. The only decoration was a wooden hutch with glass that had some various old psychiatric medical tools and books. There were none of the comforts of the waiting rooms I have become accustomed to such as essential oils being diffused, comforting music, soothing paintings on the wall or windows with a glimpse of the outdoors. I live a very sheltered life. It was very clinical, I couldn't even find a picture online of a waiting room to compare it with. Just off the waiting room was a room where every patient had their vitals checked so the chairs were a merry go round. 

I quickly realized that I couldn't hold my head up and look at the people coming in, I was afraid I was going to burst into tears.   I kept myself involved with my coloring book and reading my book of the week.  The clients who made up at least 80% of the steady stream revolving through were kids, young kids. Kids accompanied by their parents, kids who looked like they had experienced more difficulties in their short years than I've known in 48 years! The parents were tired, frustrated, and several were short with their kids. These parents were doing their best, getting their children mental health help.  I have no idea what any of their stories were but it was a chilling and humbling experience. I didn't feel worthy to meet their eyes because I can't even comprehend the struggles in their lives. We need to quit stigmatizing those who are seeking mental health as less than or broken.  These parents are struggling, trying to help their children. We need to make mental health readily available and as socially acceptable as the "gentleman's clubs" that seem to be okay with the masses. The help must be accessible, affordable and accepted socially.

Last week I shared with you about kids needing compassion and how much my Wednesday night girls are on my heart for the burdens they carry and the struggles they face. My heart wept today with seeing so many children with struggles as part of their lives.  I beg of you-our children need mercy, they need compassion-desperately! Where you have children in your life smile at them, be patient with them and see them.  If you can volunteer with kids in your community, please do. There are so many opportunities: 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, little league, schools, churches, the list goes on and on.  Reach out and strive to be the spark that ignites a flame. You might just make a difference in a life and prevent....darkness. God has a plan for every life, he desires nothing more than each and every life to be filled with joy and happiness-light.
As a community, let's work together for mental health changes so people whose worlds fall apart can have better things fall together!

“Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” ~Marilyn Monroe 

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