I’m so blessed to welcome Mark Szewczak back to my corner of cyberspace. If you missed his last reflection about life in an empty nest, do go read it. Thanks to Mark for sharing his wisdom and tender heart with all of us and for his reminder of how much God loves us.

Recently I have noticed a number of mom bloggers writing about their day-to-day lives filled with kids, laundry, housework. They write to encourage and share with others similarly situated. As an older dad, I find I can identify in some specific ways with what they write. They speak to me in a surprisingly personal way.

But I need to share something. I find myself being choked up when I read of a little one having a 104 degree fever and crying in pain from an ear infection. I feel for the mother who is now without sleep for umpteen nights and beginning to doubt her sanity.  I sense a dad helpless to fix things (it’s what we guys think we are supposed to do) and wanting to stay home from work, but knowing that means not getting a full paycheck or receiving a black mark at work which hurts his family, his responsibility. I read of a family with a child having a serious chronic disease and my hearts bleeds inside.

Where does this personal connection come from?  When I was younger I stuffed some of these things for selfless and selfish reasons. My wife and I have been through all these things and indeed have a child with a major life-long medical issue who is now a happy adult. Why wasn’t I closer to this tearing-up point back 20 years ago? How did we, then, and these parents, now, handle it all?

“Why”  and “How” questions come easier to me now. Answers, not so much. In pondering all of this I have begun to understand in a veiled way what it means when we hear that God shares our sorrows.

Having this intensified empathy lately is, I think, a gift from God. You see, God is empathy. It is a manifestation of His being Love. God so loves us that He completely experiences our sorrows, struggles, pains and joys along with us. He isn’t “up there,” He is right here.

Having this starting point, I begin to ponder the next “why” question: why does it continue, why does He let it happen? Now if you think I have got the answer to THAT one, well…oh my, no. But then again, having gone through my life to this point somehow has brought me to a more compassionate place.

When I was young I thought as a young man, full of myself, my learning, my ideas of HOW THINGS SHOULD BE. Now I am older and learning something new: that it isn’t all about me. It’s about all of us.

I cannot be a member of Christ’s Body if I am not aiming to be in tune as He is in tune…each cry, each laugh, each tear. For me, it is taking a long time to get that point. God has been training me in life, in the school of struggle and suffering so I can KNOW the suffering and struggles of my fellow sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ.

What he is telling me is that THIS is my job, to be His compassion, His empathy, His hands, His words, His LOVE to everyone I meet. When that happens in my imperfect way, God does act to stop the suffering, heal the torment, and bring joy. It takes me to be open to His promptings. I pray I stay on the road to bring the Good news to the next person, who takes it to the next…and the next. It is as St. Teresa of Avila tells us:

“God has no hands but our hands to do his work today;
God has no feet but our feet to lead others in his way;
God has no voice but our voice to tell others how he died;
and, God has no help but our help to lead them to his side.”

© Mark R. Szewczak, 2010

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