Helping When You Don’t Know How

Helping When You Don’t Know How

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balancing rocks 3 Pacific ocean-smI had no idea what to expect. A pastor had called me and asked if I could visit a man who was in the hospital. He completely broke down and was threatening to shoot his entire family. I didn’t know what I would say to him. I had no magical wand or secret powers.

When we met he first looked at me with mistrust and bewilderment. His eyes looked tired and he was shaking. Who was I and what did I want? I simply introduced myself and sat down. We talked and in time he opened up to me about his feelings of failure, the job he had been laid off from, and the bottle that was giving him relief. He said he was not serious about hurting his family, and that people overreacted. We talked about how this experience could be used as a powerful stepping stone forward. I knew a thing about bouncing back and how anything really is possible.

After he was released we kept in touch. I stressed the importance behind his children needing a father who was sober. He did well at first, but soon called drunk. I told him that he first had to help himself before seeing the hand out to help him up.

I worked with him on moving forward with his life. Amends could be made but he had to forgive himself first. He had to get back up, dust his pants off, and try again. As humans we live our lives constantly falling down and failing. Its what we do with our failures that count. I shared some very personal information about my own life and bouncing back. I had been a patient, in the same exact room he was in, over 10 years ago. I knew what he was feeling because I had shed the same tears.

What happened next I will never forget. Instead of taking on these challenges he took his own life. I felt like I had failed and may be at fault for not having done more. Helping in these lives come at a price. I was hurt and angry with his choice.

My wife helped me understand that to stop this program would be failure. Was I basing my actions on success or on need?

I shared this post to show that all this program is not one that always has a happy ending. Did I fail? I know the answers today but didn’t at that time. Who wants to walk into a county mental health hospital and connect with lives in the midst of hurt? I did not want to go, yet something inspired me to go forward. I thought of the lives of those who might choose the right paths ahead. Was it fair to them?

It took a bit for me to get back on the horse and move forward. I had to understand what happen and know that the dark side of life often needs the most light shown on it. I have used this situation as a reminder not to duck the phone or not return a call. I had ignored a call around the same time as his death, thinking he was just drunk and loaded.