Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

I got an email from a friend a few days ago, asking me if I would mind calling someone she knew through CafeMom. She explained to me that she thought I would be able to relate to some of the woman's experiences, and the woman needed a lot of encouragment right now. She told me that his woman had just given birth to a baby boy about two weeks ago, through a c-section. She also had to have a hysterectomy, due to cancer. Additionally, her husband came to visit her in the hospital, only to inform her that he wanted a divorce, and wanted nothing to do with her or the baby.

She has not been able to hold her baby or see much of her baby, because she cannot sit up or get out of her bed. The hospital released her baby, as the insurance would not pay for him to stay there any longer, and her neighbor is caring for the baby right now. As I anticipate the fast approaching birth of my own son, I cannot imagine how devastating it would be to not be able to hold him, feed him, kiss him...or even see him, for that matter.

Hmm. I couldn't relate to all of this woman's story, and I honestly felt totally inadequate to help this woman at all, but...I said I would call her.

I emailed her first to let her know I had been contacted by a friend of hers, and that I wanted to offer her what encouragment I could. I told her that, while I could not relate to all of her story, I was familiar with pain, heartache, transitons, and, yes, triumph amidst all of it, and I wanted to offer her a listening ear. And, if she wanted, I would share with her a bit of what I learned along the way.

She emailed me back and asked me to please call her, and she gave me her number.

Her voice was weak when she answered. She had been confined to her hospital bed since her surgeries, and was restricted from sitting up or walked due to complications from the hysterectomy. As she talked, her voice cracked as she tried to choke back tears. Her words came slowly. She often repeated herself, and her voice was so soft, it was difficult to understand what she was saying. I listened, though. I may not have understood all of her words, but I could hear her pain.

I did not have a lot to say. I encourage her to reach out to those she had available through the hospital. I told her to ask for a clergy member to visit her. I encouraged her to continue working with her therapist. I encouraged her to ask for a social worker. I encouraged her to remember that this will pass. She will get well. She will be able to care for her son, and she will be a good mother. I told her that I knew what her husband did to her was cruel and devastating, but if that is what was in his heart, it is better that she and her son not have him in the picture for now.

She listened. Her voice calmed. I felt lost. We talked a bit longer. I told her I would pray for her.

She emailed me and thanked me for calling her. She said she wanted to die.

That was last week. I talked with her again tonight, and I am happy to say, she is doing much better. She is encouraged. She is focused on her healing. She is focused on getting well and getting home so she can care for her baby. She is scared. Understandably. None of us who are facing single motherhood ever planned it this way, and the task of raising a child alone is a daunting one. I reminded her that we are not the first women facing raising children without a father, and we won't be the last. We both know single moms who have made it work. It's not easy, but they are doing it. And we can, too.

She was much more hopeful about her future this time, and not once did she say she wanted her life to be over. This is a big improvement.

She said to me that, even though we are miles apart, we have things in common that help us understand each other and create a connection. She told me how much she appreciated the time I give her, and that I help her to stay focused on the things that are important...getting healthy, and getting home to her baby so she can be the great mom that she is.

The whole time, I am thinking, "I am totally taking a shot in the dark every time I open my mouth to say something to you. I am just hoping that, by the grace of God, I am helping you."

We talked for just over an hour. I told her I want us to stay in touch, and I want to know how she is doing when she gets out of the hospital and is finally able to be with her baby.

It is amazing how inadequate we feel when asked to step in on something as monumental as helping another person manage their devastating heartaches. Yet, when we choose to do it, trusting that God will honor the effort, wonderous things seem to happen every time. We may not always get our words right, but God sees the heart, and says, "Now THIS is something I can work with!!"

It is an honor to be part of someone's healing, in any capacity.

God has already used you to comfort someone else through your experiences- that's awesome!
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