Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Why Me?"

I thought my sister-in-law, Susan, was a pretty amazing person and THEN she went and donated a kidney. To a stranger. Now I am using the thesaurus to try to find a bigger, stronger word! Fantastic? Incredible? Remarkable? It just doesn't seem adequate..... Susan has been married to my brother for 25 years (he is also wonderful....brilliant, hilarious, and rock solid character) and I have known her since I was 12. I could list the qualities I admire in her and there would be many! She is brilliant, one piece of evidence to support this is her graduate degree in engineering. She has raised, and continues to raise, four great kids, often stepping out of the culture's current pattern (that may be another blog....) for how to do that. She has a deep faith, inclusive of ALL, curious about life, always educating herself, wonderful writer, open about her vulnerabilities and weaknesses, she is just really, well, "real." But this isn't what I want to write about......back to that kidney thing. Susan wrote an essay on why she donated a kidney and I would like to insert the last paragraph, where she elaborates on her 4th reason, so you can hear her thoughts in her own words.

"4. I wanted to be right. A friend of mine insists the world has more darkness than light, more brokenness than wholeness. We’ve argued many times whether God’s touch of joy is more like a trickle or a flood. I stood squarely in the light-wholeness-flood camp. That is, until I, too, experienced a few years of confusion and hurt. More than anything, I hated that he was even partially right. So, this act of donating life is about healing a bit of brokenness and creating a flood of joy. Or, in this case, creating a flood of urine."

So I read this, and I see the threads of what in my field is called resiliency. Resiliency is a way of describing the clusters of characteristics, qualities, behaviors, strengths, that when in combination allow someone to "get through" and thrive, after difficult childhoods, traumas, wars, illnesses, etc.

An aspect of resiliency is how one views the world and the people in it. I don't mean the pollyanna view that comes with the denial of suffering and pain. But one with resiliency rarely ruminates on the question, "Why Me?" They don't see themselves as deserving of pain or tough circumstances but they also don't see themselves as entitled to the absence of them either. The resilient person is not prone to the bitterness and resentment that befalls living IN the question, "Why Me?"

A resilient person can hold two, apparently contradictory realities together, that in life there is the chance to experience staggering tragedy and pain, as well as deep love and joy. The resilient person, after what they have gone through or will always go through, continues to believe and experience the good in others, and yet, is very realistic about the limitations of human nature.

See, the thing is, Susan, has not had it easy and she still wrote that paragraph and acted on her belief in the world. I won't parade her experiences and pain, that is not the point. I will tell you that she has experienced staggering loss and that one of those losses was her and my brother's first born son, James. And, like many resilient people, she has gained compassion and empathy for those that struggle. Those that see themselves as strong, but are actually in a defensive posture to keep their pain at bay, are more likely to judge those that struggle to deal with their difficulties.

I have attached a link in order to provide more information on resiliency (see below). It comes easier to some than others, but many of the skills and perspectives can be learned over time.

Until we "meet" again.

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