Last night we sat in on a group of people talking about working with troubled youths. The instructor started cursing quite a bit during her story-telling, and there were some noticeable “whoa”s and nervous laughs in the group of 50 adults as she became more and more vulgar throughout her story.
Then she breaks character (or regains it?) and says,
If I’m offending you, or you’re feeling uncomfortable, you won’t be able to help these kids. They have been abandoned, abused, neglected, hurt. They are untrusting of you and desperately needing of you. They want love, and they want to prove to themselves and you that you are just like everyone else and couldn’t care less about them. They will say all that and much worse. The strongest thing you can say after these outbursts is a simple sentence:
“I’m still here.”
It rang so true to me. In the years since Ezra was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, I have become much more in tune to these hurts we all carry. The searching in our hearts, the wondering who we are, why we’re here, what is promised, what is right, and what is good. I have listened and watched as our friends and loved ones (and Robyn and I) live our lives, continue to define our passions and priorities, break and build.
I have friends who are at the tops of their games – great success, well known, respected. I have friends who are in low places – lives broken, promises shattered. I know many people in the middle of these extremes. We are searching for meaning, we are finding it, and we are searching more. Sometimes it’s far from the forefront of our minds, while we are excited and caught up in the passion of life.
We want to be known, both by others and by ourselves. Maybe we express ourselves through a song, a wall of paint, a film, a quiet garden. Maybe it’s through an attention to work. At the heart of it we look for community – we want to be known. The size of this community we crave can change, but it doesn’t disappear.
Hold fast to the people who truly matter to you, and don’t let yourself fall away from them just because you don’t understand the things they do after loss. It’s a world of broken people we live in, and it’s powerful to speak understanding and consistency to your loved ones.
“I’m still here.”
Nicely stated, Kyle! For a lot of us, our motivations also change, and wanting to be known turns to wanting our children to be known and remembered. This can be uncomfortable for some, because the subject of our kids who have died isn’t an easy thing to talk about. But I’ve noticed that the more comfortable we get with talking about our kids and remembering the good times…and the not so good times, the more comfortable everyone becomes with talking about and remembering them.
I think pain and hurt is the most common experience to man; yet it is something that we avoid at all cost, and if we can’t avoid it, we cover it up and pretend it’s not there. The result; a deeply unhappy people, who feel all alone in their pain. The more real we are with ourselves and each other, the more free we will be in who we are, and the more joy we will experience together as beat up, broken, and hurting people, who help and encourage each other along the way.
Kevin – definitely! Reminds me of a quote I posted here a bit ago, paraphrased from a Dr Who (ha, serious) episode:
“to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world is one of the greatest things in the world”
Wow… your words hit home… “I’m still here” … that phrase will spin in my head the rest of the day… Thank you for being so transparent. Your ability to voice your feelings help others to voice theirs.
I have never had a child die. You have such an incredible gift for helping me feel what you are feeling….or at least close to it. And I learn, I really learn a lot. I think of Ezra from time to time. His smile. His sweet little smile. And Because of Ezra’s dad, I feel like I know him. And I really think it makes me a better person. I get it. I praise God for your wisdom. Thank you for sharing.
First, what a brilliant instructor to share that perspective on our youth in pain. And then you and Kevin both nailed it, as you always do. It’s like you’re in my head but speak it so much more perfectly! Thank you! There are still days I climb out of bed and have to remind MYSELF, “I’m still here”…
Because of Ezra, you will be known and you will change lives. “I’m still here”.. also known as forgiveness. Oh, if we could all forgive like Christ did.