“I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do
interfere with what I can do.”
~ Edward Everett Hale
It was with great shock and sadness that I learned this week of yet another school shooting on a college campus in Roseburg, Oregon. I cannot even fathom the pain and heartbreak these families are experiencing. I am sure this day dawned like any other, with these young people heading off to school, full of promise eager to pursue another day of learning in a field of their academic choosing. While reading the profiles of these nine individuals, I could sense their passion for life and clear direction for their promising futures. It is so hard to process that their hopes and dreams will not transpire. One was a professor on campus. One had dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse and another was one of quadruplets just to name a few. These people had families, dreams, goals and visions. They mattered so much to so many and now they are just, gone. I imagine if this horrific scenario involved my son Tyler and daughter Shannon and my heart breaks as all these students were someone’s precious child. You also hear of the heroes who arose through the trial and helped in any way they could. These are the small rays of sunshine in the dark and gloomy landscape of great despair.
Earlier this month I read of three young children in Toronto and their grandfather who were sadly killed by a drunk driver in a terrible car crash. The heroic emergency crews, rushed to the accident site eager to assist the wounded, yet much to their dismay it was already too late. The scene was so horrific I am told through the news that eight out of the fifteen paramedics at the scene are currently on medical leave suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to what they witnessed. I imagine if it was my young students being involved in this accident and my mind is deeply troubled as this destroyed an entire family and these kids were some teacher’s students somewhere.
Today I heard of a beautiful and loving local family who lost their husband and father suddenly and I am overwhelmed with grief for them. Sadness and sorrow are all around us and at times it is very difficult to know how to help and where to even start. We are desperate for positive news, yet sometimes it is in short supply. We want to be that hero to others, yet realize we are only one person. As overwhelming as it may seem remember that even one willing person can still make a powerful difference.
We will often be in the right place at the right time to be a blessing to others. I have learned in the wake of such tragedies to pray for wisdom on how we can best assist others to be a very helpful strategy. Sometimes a hug, timely gesture or even our silent presence may be exactly what that person needs to make it through another day. I often struggle with feelings of inadequacy in the face of profound grief. It is during those times however that I have seen amazing opportunities arise if I will be bold and follow God’s leading.
I recall one evening in the fall last year at the University of Windsor where I had a unique encounter, a divine appointment if you will, with a truly needy soul. Every Tuesday I would accompany my son to the university for company and while he sat in class I would either do one of two things: mark my students’ work, or work on my weekly blog. On this particular evening just before I sat down to settle in to work, I went to the washroom and suddenly noticed something very troubling. I could hear muffled sobs, sniffling and could see feet pacing back and forth in the large stall. Immediately I was drawn to this woman and felt a deep desire to know what was so upsetting. Lingering for a long time, I was greatly disappointed that she did not come out. I went in and out of the washroom several times and yet she was still there. Finally after quite some time and when the washroom was empty besides her and I, I boldly said “Excuse me miss, but are you o.k.?” She weakly replied “I’m fine.” I then said “I don’t mean to pry but I can tell you have been crying and you have been in there a long time. I know you are in some type of distress and I just want you to know I care. I am a mom and I am reaching out to you as if you were my own child. I am here for you if you would like to talk.” She said “Thank you, but I am fine.” (Clearly, she was not.) I then went on to say “I won’t pretend to know what you are going through, but I want you to know that you are strong, capable and you will get through this! I also want you to know that I will be praying for you!” She again said “Thank you! Thank you!” as she cried. Waiting for a minute, I sensed that was to be the extent of our time together, and I quietly left the washroom. Never did I ever see her in person, but I pray that my words and actions touched her spirit that night. I pray that God used me to help her see in some way that there are no problems too serious that cannot be solved and that someone truly cared about her.
Opportunities will arise when we feel led to help others, yet we may feel uncomfortable. I did that night in the washroom. We don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, so we hesitate. This has happened to me in the past and I have lived to regret it. My mom always said “You will never go wrong when being kind.” I have tried to live by those wise words and use them to guide me to help others. Where we may feel inadequate or unsure, we may be just the one that helps that needy person that day like my experience with the young girl in the washroom.
I have always had a heart for grieving kids and a deep desire to help them. It was through that desire that my book Magic Kisses came about. It is a story about eight year old Molly and how she deals with the death of her father and how their family finds hope and healing after his death. Many times I struggled with how to bring this book to life. Many times I doubted it would ever be a reality, but now that it is published it is being used as a tool to help others and I am so humbled and grateful.
Sometimes we underestimate ourselves. We think someone else would do a better job at this or someone else would have a better word of comfort or encouragement for a particular person. I know I have been that doubter. Through the years though I have learned that when we pray to be a blessing to someone, God will give us the courage and the words to be a genuine help to others, even when we feel like we have nothing to offer.
There is so much heartache and tragedy, but there is so much good in this world as well. We need to bring that message of hope and healing to each other. The need is so great and knowing where to start can be a daunting task, but all it takes is starting with that first critical step. Believe in yourself and your ability to share your heart with someone and let him or her know that you care about what is going on in his or her life. I remember in a recent sermon at church our pastor suggested this simple phrase to truly help others. He shared to acknowledge what others are going through and ask “What can I do to help?” It lets them know that you care and are willing to take action to make their situations better. You may be one person, but with an open heart you can make a big difference, one person at a time.
Until next time,
2 Corinthians 1:4: He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Little Lesson Learned: Sometimes one willing soul is all that is needed to make a profound impact on another.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015