When was the last time you said to yourself, “I am blessed.”
When was the last time you stopped and thanked God for all you have?
Warm weather, cold weather, struggles, fatigue and laughter, that’s what this month included. It also included Easter – A Holiday based on celebrating the miracle of life, new beginnings, reflection and joy. I knew that I’d be working the Holiday and struggled with it.
But when I woke Easter morning, I got to watch the glorious sun rise above the ocean as I drove into work. It was then that I paused an thanked God for my life, my family and my job.
The day should have been my usual 8 hour shift as a House Counselor at a residential program for teens. But those of us who work in fields such as Social Work, know that what “should be” is rarely what “is.”
So, as God saw it fit… My 8 hour shift became a hectic 12 hour shift.
Now, we’ve all felt the aggravation of not leaving work on time. The strain of feeling burnt out. The frustration that comes with the unexpected. And the guilt that comes from being away from family for longer than expected (especially on a Holiday). I’m sure we could all find a few choice words for such situations. But for some reason, even as the 10th hour approached, I found myself overcome with grace.
Let me explain. Most of the youth I’ve worked with don’t have the option of going home for the Holidays. Nor do they have family or friends to spend days with. That’s when I realized, I have no idea what it’s like to be in their situation. No right to claim I know what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. But through that heartache I came to realize – I’m the lucky one. Not because I get to go home at the end of the day or because I have a home to go to. I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to spend many Holidays with individuals from all walks of life. Individuals who have more strength and courage than I will ever know. Individuals who can teach us a thing or two about life.
On many occasions, especially Holiday’s, while going about my day at work, a single thought crosses my mind – being someone these youth spend the day with is something I should be celebrating, not complaining about. We forget that they’re always watching; other’s are watching. Why shouldn’t we be celebrating moments like these? These youth have so much to give, we should feel blessed to get the opportunity to meet them!
We have all (in some way, shape or form) faced struggles. We all know that person who’s been hurting lately. We have all seen the news stories that break our hearts… this world is hurting. And our youth are trying to “figure it all out.” Now is the time to heal, love and support. Let other’s know they matter.
Anyone and everyone who is facing trials in life, YOU have so much potential and promise. You’re full of purpose – we all are. Too often we speak of changing this world, but so often we forget that changing this world is something we can do everyday. Every minute, we are given the opportunity to make a difference and better this world. Everyday, my job gives me the opportunity to show empathy, joy and dedication. I get to relay the message that there is more than what meets the eye.
Think about it… What message are we sending to our youth and others if we show up angry about needing to work? What hope are we giving them if we make them believe they are just a part of our job? A countdown to the second we can leave and go home? Wouldn’t these thoughts hurt you?
“We all matter,” isn’t that what we tell our family & friends? Shouldn’t we let the youth of this world know that they matter too!
They deserve to know that they matter. That they’re important – their story is important. That there is more to them than their past, more than their current situation.
Their life has been hard, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached a dead-end. We aren’t there to make their life harder! We aren’t there to “fix” things – they don’t need to be fixed, they’re not broken! They’ve just been dealt some crap cards.
What we should do is tell them, “life is hard, but worth working at!” We shouldn’t lie to them and tell them “it’ll be fine,” we don’t know that. What we do know is that life will keep throwing stones. So, let’s remind them that they are capable of making it through whatever predicament they may be facing. Tell them that life sucks and is unfair, let them know that it’s okay to face struggles and to be angry. But bring hope through those words. Honesty and support, it’s what they need, it’s what we all need.
Let them know they can make it! We can hold our heads no higher than theirs. We are all equal. We all deserve time to sort through things and time to start over. We all deserve to know that someone believes in us.
Whether we’re family, friends, coworkers or complete strangers, we all deserve to know that there will always be someone to share the day (or Holiday) with.
We cannot let the beautiful people in this world believe they are “paperwork.” They are not another section on our resume or just another speck on the map. They are human beings. They are just as important (if not more) than you and I. They have feelings just as we do. They have hopes and dreams for themselves. So please, let’s take this opportunity to help them get through it, teach them ways they can continue to healthily survive, give them “tools” they can use in the future. Life is a battle no one should have to face alone.
All that being said, from my heart to yours – I trust you are able to face daily struggles with a sense of hope. I pray you find peace within yourself and through the presence of others. I believe you are stronger than you know. And most of all, I hope you know you are never alone.
From one stranger to another, I am so proud of you for being alive,
“From one simple life to another, I will say, ‘Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray.'” -Sidewalk Prophets