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.