My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

making a difference

This whole mindset of making a difference is really retraining my attitude and thought process. No matter how much I hurt when I set off for work, I tell myself that I have to stay at it until I have made a difference to somebody. And then... once I feel that I've found that person for whom I've truly made a difference... it's such a good feeling that I want to keep going. It's addictive, you see.

Yesterday it was a client who was out of work and considering a move to another area of the country to try to find work. She is in a field similar to my brother - counseling - and I expressed surprise that she hasn't been able to find work here. I joked, "I come across crazy people all the time"... and we had a good laugh. She mentioned one job offer she had received that required more of a faith based counseling perspective and she had gotten away from her faith. I just said, "maybe it's time to return to your faith... and then you'll have a job". There was more to the conversation but I don't want to betray confidence... at the end of the conversation she said, "you made my day... I'm so glad I called in". Yay! I made a difference! And it was before 10am!

I think for anyone who struggles... whether dealing with chronic pain or other illness or even mental health issues like depression... if you can just get out of your nest long enough to make a difference to one person... it will change your life. I love being with people. I love my job. But pain robs you of any pleasure in anything you do. Even when you're not hurting (which is rare for me) you live with the fear that any over-exertion or change from your normal routine will cause your pain to return. You paint yourself into a little box, the normal, abbreviated routine that you can control, hopefully to the extent of mitigating the pain.

Making a difference makes the effort seem worth it. It's probably why my mom volunteers at the hospital. It gives you an opportunity to take the focus off what's hurting you long enough to help someone solve the problem of what's hurting them. If there's one thing you learn when you have any chronic condition - it's how to get around the pain. You learn to be creative. When you're immobilized, whether by pain or discouragement or fear - you learn to be creative. Those shortcuts you create for yourself make you an expert at problem solving... and you can find that shortest path from point A to point B for others.

I haven't talked about this much here but I didn't drive until I was in my late 20's. I can't tell you why. I just had such an immense fear of driving that I never learned how to drive. My parents had one car, it was a manual transmission, I was afraid to drive it, there really wasn't time for anyone to teach me to drive it. My mom didn't drive until I was 18 so it wasn't like she was going to teach me. Her mother never drove. And I believe it was two more generations back - my grandmother's grandmother - who never even rode in a car. She was worried that the undertaker was going to put her in their new automobile when she passed away but instead... it had rained too much and the roads were washed out so they had to bring her to town for burial with a horse and wagon. So... I come from a long line of women with issues with automobiles.

The opportunity to learn to drive wasn't something that was available to me until I was already married and pregnant. And then... I felt this overwhelming sense of mortality and didn't want to do anything to hurt the baby inside me... and then I didn't want to hurt myself since I had a little baby to care for... and then the years ticked by and I just never learned. I passed my driving test at 21 but was still terrified.

This created a huge burden for my friends and family. I expended more effort arranging the logistics of getting me and my growing family where we needed to be than it would have taken to just get behind the wheel and drive. It created a huge strain on my marriage. I couldn't do anything or go anywhere - at times I was a prisoner in my own home, especially when Robert pulled his disappearing act. It placed an unfair burden on him. The fear... a fear I couldn't explain then and certainly can't explain now... took a life of it's own, the same way my pain has taken over my life now.

Finally, one day, my friend Rachel's daughter Rebecca got sick at school. Rachel lived well over a mile from me in our mega-subdivision and was without a car that day. She asked if she could walk to my house to borrow my car to go get her little girl - who was throwing up at school. I thought of the time that would take and how miserable Becca must surely be... and I said, "that will take too long. I'm pretty sure I can drive to your house". And I did. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. Quite the opposite. It wasn't even that scary. It was actually freeing. I made a difference for a sick little girl and her worried mommy that day.

Then I found that I could push myself a little bit further beyond my comfort zone and drive me and the boys to church. I didn't have to worry about whether or not their dad was going to wake up on Sunday morning to take us. Then I figured out I could drive us to the ball field and I didn't have to worry any more about the boys being late or missing their practices or games. AND THEN... I figured out I could drive a little further to the little lake where we could go and swim during the summer. Slowly... our world expanded. I began to sell AVON to make some extra money because I could drive to deliver to customers. I was able to pick my kids up from school. I was able to spend time with friends and family. It changed my life.

And it all started because I wanted to make a difference for Rachel and Rebecca.

God has a way of taking the things we do for others and using them as a blessing for us. God has a way of taking our biggest barriers and making them our biggest stepping stones. My pain is frustrating... and at times isolating... and frequently discouraging... but it's changing my life in a way I never expected. I have to make a difference to others to make it seem worth it to get out of bed... and because of that I'm focusing more on MAKING a difference!

So... I guess the moral of the story is to look beyond whatever your circumstances are... figure out a way to make a difference to someone else... and maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference to you as well.

Please keep my friend Gina in your prayers. Her father passed away on Saturday. She had to drive down to Fort Lauderdale (from Atlanta) yesterday to handle the arrangements and start settling his affairs. His burial will be in Oklahoma so she has a lot of driving in the next few days... and will miss work... pray that she will have a safe journey and that she will have the money to handle everything. She's a single girl like me so there's no back up income for her. Her mother passed away a few years ago... it's just Gina and her brother.  I wish I had money to help her... or the free time to go with her... but instead, I'm just going to rally a covering of prayer for her, so please, be sure to pray for her throughout this week.

Hope you have an awesome day and I hope you find a way to make a difference to somebody...
love and hugs!


Jeanne said...

I went out to dinner with my daughter on Sat night and we had this EXACT conversation!!!! Must be something in the air!! And I agree with everything you said 110%!!!


Barbie said...

amen sista!