“Am I truly brave? Or do I just want to be a hero?”
It is such a strange time, directly after losing a child. No one seems to know what to do or what to say to you. It is like suddenly being snatched out of your own life and thrust into a vacuum of awkwardness where no one else wants to dwell. A desert no one else wants to even think about.
For me, after Joel died that was certainly the case, with exception of Joel’s hurting and confused friends, with whom I suddenly found myself surrounded. And the majority of Joel’s friends were some pretty lost and confused kids in general. Those were the kids he had just naturally gravitated to. I think that was because Joel was a natural Lover of the Hurting. He was like a neighborhood “crisis line.”
It’s 4:00 am and a young girl he has befriended has an overwhelming urge to cut her wrists ~ call Joel. One kid is so mad at another, he is going around making death threats ~ call Joel and he will “talk him down”. Another girl has an eating disorder ~ call Joel…he would spend hours talking to her to help her feel better. Scared, sad or lonely? Call Joel. For a short time near the end of his life, before it seemed as if he just gave up and succumbed to the growing darkness inside himself, Joel had wanted to be a counselor. And he would have been a good one.
So I guess that was why those were the kids I began helping. That was all great…until they grew up, stopped coming to my house and forgot all about me. I guess. But I could never, ever forget about them. To me, they were my new children. Since the majority of them were boys, and I still had my precious daughter Heather, I began to wonder. Why was I helping all of these kids?
Was I doing it for me or was I doing it for them? Perhaps I was trying to replace Joel. If so, I wasn’t doing that consciously, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t doing it. After each one of the kids learned what they needed from me, they went home to their grateful families. And there I was. Alone with a broken heart. It was nobody’s fault. After all, they weren’t my real children. And even though many of them called me “Mom” for awhile, I wasn’t their real mother. My real boy was gone.
As time went on, I began to carefully examine my heart and the motives for my actions. It seemed as if being with other teens had actually filled a part of the gapping hole in my heart and soul. I started to wonder if that feeling of fullness was real.
Was I truly brave, or did I just want to be a hero?
When I began thinking down this dark rabbit hole, I suddenly began to panic. What if there wasn’t enough goodness in me that was pure? What if my desire to give was actually a sick way of taking ~ taking for myself? Or what if what I was giving away wasn’t what was wanted or needed?
Just recently, I decided I didn’t really care…that it didn’t really matter one way or the other. I suddenly realized I was hyper-focusing on myself. Believe me, that is a very unproductive and depressing place to be. I decided if one young person was helped by any act of kindness I was able to do for them, I should just stop worrying. It wasn’t about me anyway. If I am able to do anything good at all, it isn’t me doing or being that goodness anyway…it is God. Because God is Love.
That’s when it became joyfully obvious to me:
It is actually possible to give more than you have…
more than you even are.
It is really totally irrelevant whether I am brave or not. Or a hero or not. This freedom in giving is possible, but only if I stop thinking about myself. If I thought of God as the giver and not myself, I could find deep joy in giving ~ giving and not being in the least bit depleted.