A Lesson in Empathy

This last week and a half has been a whirlwind of activity. My mother suddenly asked when I was going to start helping her find another place to live which really took me by surprise. I knew she was bored sitting around my house all day and watching TV, but I didn’t think she was THAT bored. I had just toured one assisted living facility by my house, and the staff seemed nice. They also have activities that she enjoyed at her retirement resort in Tennessee such as bingo and happy hour, so I told her about it. She wanted to see it, and once she did, it turned out that she liked it very much. We spent last week making preparations for the move and then I took her to the zoo on Saturday since she had really wanted to go. Each day since her move on Monday, I’ve gone to visit, and she seems to be settling in very well. I feel so blessed since I know that many families struggle with this type of transition. I’d been praying hard (I’m talking about the praying that involves tears, asking for mercy, praising God, and begging) for help and guidance since my mother needs so much assistance, and I’ve been struggling with my own health issues. I truly believe that God intervened as he has in the past when I’ve felt overwhelmed and desperate.

I was also blessed to learn a valuable lesson through this experience. Yesterday, when I logged into an online course I’m taking this summer for the first time, I discovered that it’s not as self-paced as I had been led to believe. The course is being offered by the school district in which I work, and I found a message from the instructor asking if there was any confusion since had not logged in and done any course work. I clicked on the syllabus link and found that I had already missed some due dates. I immediately replied to the instructor’s message and explained my mother’s situation. I went on to explain that it has been a very trying time for us. He was very understanding in his response and said that I could go ahead and proceed with the course when ready. I felt mortified though. I’m not the type to ever make excuses. I’ve always met deadlines, and I consistently meet expectations. I pride myself on these qualities.

As the day wore on and I went through my course work, I continued to feel badly about neglecting this responsibility. I suddenly realized, however, that I should not be ashamed and that I was being too hard on myself. My priority was my mother…as it should be. Then I started thinking about others I have known and worked with who seemed to struggle with meeting deadlines or fulfilling responsibilities, and while it’s true that some people don’t plan well or procrastinate, I realize now that many people have complicated lives due to children, parents, or siblings, and I need to be careful in judging others. Weathering a storm can provide valuable perspective, and I believe this situation has helped me to become more compassionate, not just towards the elderly as I thought it might, but towards everyone.

I guess God not only answered my prayer for help with my mom, but he’s also answering my continued prayer that he will shape me into the type of person he wants me to be. It’s hard, but I know it’s necessary to achieve my purpose here on Earth and beyond.


Photo by Annie Spratt and located at Unsplash.com

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