Lately I have been feeling unusually down. I was trying to put my finger on the source of my depression. I have a new job I really enjoy and that pays the bills. I am teaching English at a university part time - definitely the most rewarding part time job I have ever had. I love it! My kids are doing well and are all happy. I am looking forward to hanging out with my girls Thanksgiving weekend. I really feel blessed by the church I am attending. I have more friends now than ever before in my life. Life is good, so why have I had this nagging sense of sorrow? When I finished beating myself up for experiencing an emotion I had no right to experience (yes, that’s sarcasm) I finally landed on the source of my depression. Of course! It is November and November is the anniversary of my sister Debbie’s death. There is no denying it - that ranked as the worst experience of my life.
Until Debbie died I sailed through life blissfully unaware of true pain. I remember a conversation with one of my friend’s whose world was rocked by a very painful experience at a point in time long before Debbie died. She was trying to describe for me what she was going through and she said she had so much pain in her heart there was no room for one drop more. She mentioned how people would try to talk to her about their lives and the things that were hurting them and she would just look at them and feel no empathy at all because she was saturated with her own hurt. I didn't understand what she meant then, but the morning I got the call about my sister, I fell to the floor crying and discovered an ache which was so overwhelming I didn't think I would ever be able to move again. For three years I lived in a fog and it didn't matter what other people were going through; I couldn't find it in myself to care. What I discovered when I came out of the fog, though, and began to feel again, was a new Rhonda.
That horrid experience opened my eyes to suffering around me unlike any video or moving testimony from somebody else ever could have. I realized hard and painful truths about myself and how judgmental I was when other people were hurting. I realized the importance of stopping my busy life completely to try to be there for other human beings. I began to look at people who suffered with a mind and heart ready to serve them. For the first time in my life, I was moved to the point of action by other people’s pain. My relationship with God changed, too.