Thursday, September 16, 2010


I hate disappointing people.

Most of us do. I don't want to be the one who couldn't deliver what was needed. Sometimes efficiency, big picture decisions and 'the way things are done' trump really being there for someone. And I let people down. I have to say no to what a distressed person is asking me because my job only goes so far. I can't stretch it any further.

I cannot clearly express my failure to a colleague. He thinks I'm being too precious, his teasing, mildly facetious 'You're too worthy," just makes my cheeks redden. I am trapped in this 'feeling sorry for...' and unable to do what is being pleaded for.

But I don't want to be the one who hardens my spirit, so that I can escape this not being enough. Inadequacy or helplessness can give birth to heart hardening. It's so easy to reflect..."If I can't fix it then that problem is not a real one, or worthy of my effort." And the next step is to dismiss and ignore, to avoid painful dilemmas.

And for some stories in an acute mental health ward, being in there is not enough. It will not bring solace or rescue. It will not heal a soul scarred by abuse, repeated abandonings or self-loathing scored deep. That sort of healing comes slowly, a winding, wearing journey, needing companions who walk patiently alongside.

I disappointed her. She ran away because I did not give her one request, the one I could not grant. She couldn't hear anything else I said because I abandoned her again. Yes, I know I'm just a page in a story written long, but my wish was to be different. Sadly, I do not have armour or a thoroughbred, and gallant rescues are beyond me.

But as I write, I see that I will be hurt by not rescuing, by disappointing. The hurt comes of not protecting with hardness. Not becoming blase or cynical. I can avoid disappointing by never getting close and never really listening. Safe, to some degree efficient, but lifeless.

There is a call to soft-heartedness that hears pain spoken, and does not shut it out. There's a call to see needs and not be able to meet them. To be broken by that failure, but to see that hope lies in rescue way beyond what I can do.

At Holy Experience, Ann has written about her trip to Guatemala with Compassion. I encourage you to read these posts - Sept 9, Sept 10, Sept 11, Sept 14, Sept 15. She has captured the call to soft-heartedness lyrically.

Linked with Emily and Ann

holy experience


Brian Miller said...

there is wisdom in realizing we can not rescue hurts...and the rescue that comes is far greater than any we could anufacture anyway...smiles.

elizabeth said...

Oh how I have felt this want to keep caring in the midst of an overwhelming situation you can't change, when it would be easier not to care at all. My life in the ministry in a nutshell all too often!
Thanks for writing!

Mommy Emily said...

dear friend... how glad i am to meet you, and what truth in this... in the letting go and letting him, and the witnessing him in the hard to see places... the hurting places, where only Jesus can go and truly be. thank you, so much, for linking. i hope to see you again soon. e.

Kati patrianoceu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kati patrianoceu said...

I've been there, am there, will probably be there for a long time - I totally connect with what you're saying!

And on some level, I know I should encourage you with the thought that as long as you keep these thoughts close to your heart, that's the key. But on another level, I know it's a divine agony so there are no truisms to offer...

I wrote about something similar a few months ago. If you're interested, the url is