Monday, August 31, 2009


To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary. - Scott Peck

today in my class on human behavior, my professor (a licensed social work whose been in the field for over 20 years) told us, very matter-of-factly, about a client of hers who was killed by her husband the day after her counseling session. and of another client who killed herself after transitioning from outpatient to inpatient care. Her following theoretical points - about not thinking we're saviors or knights in shining armour - were good ones and a challenge. but those stories hit me right at the root of my fear about one-on-one work - i know, intellectually, that i can't save anyone. but it's so scary to know that the only way that i will actually understand that point is by experiencing, again and again, failure in the face of brokeness and an inability to heal others.

my teacher clearly experienced enough failure that she can talk about death and brokenness and inevitable failure without bursting into tears (like i probably would). and i kept thinking "will i ever be able to do this? will i ever be able to lose someone i thought i could save and get up the next day and continue to work with the living and not be preoccupied with the shadow of death?" and i know that's where faith comes in - faith that, if i play my cards right, i'm always approaching but never reaching the kingdom, faith that I will fail and be forgiven and fail and be forgiven - maybe not on earth, but for sure in heaven...i think that's why, of all the prayers i've been saying these days, the one thing i've begged for more than anything is courage. courage to look brokeness in the face, to not ipod my way through chicago, to live not as the world lives but as the Savior lives, and to admit that i fail to do that a thousand times a day. which means i am forgiven a thousand times a day. i want courage to be hurt instead of being safe - to recognize now that if i am truly comfortable, i must be in the wrong place.

dear lord, it hurts. and it will continue to hurt, to live in this broken world, with needs around me that i cannot meet and a half-healed heart and uncomfortable shoes. thank you for all of this.

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