Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Serenity in Silence is harder that it seems

Some people DREAM of the last week that I have had. All the time in the world, the house practically to myself, with time to sleep, read, drink coffee, do yoga, (binge watch Netflix), all with a good dog by my side and no guilt for not doing something more productive.

Like I said, some people would dream of this week. I thought I did...but it's turning out to be somewhat of a nightmare. I am grateful to be finished with school, but ready to move on to my next challenge!

One of the books I have read since graduation is Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. Boyle is a Jesuit priest in the 'gang capital of the world' who shares stories of the Homeboys and Homegirls who he helped get away from the gang life and into the 'real world'. He has some great insight into what serving the community in need is like-something I am trying to prepare myself for-hence the reading of the book.

Among the stories of those Boyle helps, he writes bits about himself. In one bit he discusses how at the beginning of his work he fully immersed himself into the issues of the neighborhoods. His work was constant. Boyle writes, he was getting too close to the sun-"the immolation that comes from burning out completely in the delusion of actually 'saving people'." Now this section made me stop and laugh because it's relatability.  In Social Work we are warned of 'burning out' as Boyle speaks of. We are warned to not take on more than we can handle, to reach out for similar help we will often suggest to our clients. The irony here is the reason most of us get into Social Work is because we care too much. Yes, we learn we can't change the world but that often won't stop us from trying.

After composing myself I pick the book back up and continue to read. Boyle talks about his own difficulty with taking breaks (something I relate too way too easily) and specifically about one he took in 1992. The serenity he found in the break came from an apocryphal story of Pope John Paul XXIII. Now if you're anything like me you had to look up what apocryphal meant( so maybe my vocabulary needs some work). After figuring out that it meant a doubtful but widely shared story I read on. Apparently the Pope would go to bed and pray "I've done everything I can today for Your church. But it's Your church. And I'm going to bed."

At some point we, Social Worker or not, have to figure out when to call it. When to give it up to God. Let His will take over. My Social Work classes were correct, we can't save the world if it means trying to impart on God's plans. What we can do is put our good hands to work and follow His will. At the end of each day though, we have to wipe those hands clean of others' burdens before they become our own-before we get too close to the sun.

The best part of helping someone is seeing the results you hope for come to fruition, maybe this is similar to the joy God feels when we trust in His plan. However, just as God doesn't make anyone believe in Him, I can't make anyone ask for my help. Believing that I can is what causes so much angst at the end of the day. I can though, be there when they do realize they need help-just as God does. This prevents me from burning out but still let's me feel like I've helped someone.

So while I still constantly remind myself to enjoy the serenity of having a break, which after the last year of school that I had is surely much needed, I also need to remember that when I do find myself immersed in situations of a needy community, I cannot carry anyone else's cross. At the end of the day, I want to be able to tell God in my prayers, "I did what I could today in Your world, but it is Your world and I am going to bed."

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Great insight Abby! Thanks for sharing!