What anchors me is a question guest blogger Scott Newport has asked often since he lost his son in 2009. In today’s guest post he describes how a few kind words help him cope with grief and give his life purpose.
I’m not always sure what anchors me, what keeps me from getting stranded on the next shoal in my life. Sometimes it’s just a pleasant memory that keeps me on course. Other times a kind word makes me think deeper.
Getting stuck is never fun. It can often lead to time spent alone, sometimes shipwrecked for days.
Last Sunday I was sitting in the third row from the front listening to the pastor. HIs sermon was the first of four part series titled Sermons from the Seats. That Sunday was about my journey. When the video of me talking about how I lost my son to childhood disease ended, I explained the work I do as a parent-mentor at our children’s hospital and how my son Evan taught me the one thing.
“The one thing is that people matter,” I explained.
I never try to stay clear of the pain of grief. I know better. I’ve learned over the years it’s better not to fight the wind, but to use her to help move me along. Sometimes the breeze is all I have to clutch. Sometimes, I wonder if the work I do helping families navigate in their high stakes hospital environment matters. Many times, it’s a life and death experience.
Back to what anchors me from getting stranded.
A month ago I was talking to a mom. She had endured two months in the hospital with her sick child. There was no clear diagnosis presented by the doctors. Her child was not getting better. Her fears were skyrocketing. I guessed she was thinking about death.
I inquired about her sadness.
“Scott, I am just so mad,” she said.
“So, when do you cry?” I asked.
“I can’t,” she insisted.
The next week, when we me again, she cried three times during the visit. The lonely hospital room for parents became crowded with her thoughts of uncertainty. Her soul seemed to be drifting closer to survival.
Last week I sent her a short text. “Just checking in with you all.” The next morning, she wrote me back.
There are some people that can sense other people’s emotions and energy, like a person whisperer. I think you are one of those people.
I was thinking of the woman at the end of the church service when the pastor said, “If anyone had struggles they’re grappling with, write it on that card you were given when you came in. When you’re done bring it to the front, lay it on the stage, and exchange it for one of these wooden tokens. They’re engraved with Scotts logo about hope.”
As hundreds of people came forward I started to cry. My girlfriend leaned over and placed her hand on mine.
“Scott, your face looks like you’re in a space somewhere between sorrow and joy,” she whispered.
That evening, in bed I reflected on what the mom in the hospital and my girlfriend had observed. I started to talk to God about what anchors me when I’m heading to get stranded again. When I wonder if what I’m doing matters, maybe what anchors me are their whispers.
They sure seem like it.
Scott Newport is a carpenter who has a vision for unwanted, damaged wood. His finds are treasures to his soul. Each discovery he makes unfolds into a beautiful piece of furniture for which he finds a home, usually with a child or caregiver of a child with special needs. He writes about the life lessons he learns from his 3 children, especially from Evan who died in November of 2009 after 7 years of joyful life. To access all of Scott’s guest posts, click on the magnifying glass at the top of the page and type “Scott Newport” in the search box.
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