Because so many residents pour out their hearts to me, my boss told me this week that she pictures me like Lucy sitting behind a sign which says, The Doctor is in.
Ahhhh, it's fine with me. I love being in a position to sit and listen to their stories. I learn so many good lessons and interesting things by listening.
But, honestly? Sometimes the stories just make me feel sad. Like B's Story.
B came to Bible study on Monday and I noticed his eyes tearing up a bit. Unfortunately, I needed to get home right away, so I wasn't able to stick around and talk with him. And I took Tuesday off, so I didn't see B again until Wednesday morning at exercise class.
He came in before anyone else and I asked how he was doing. That's all it took. B started to open up and tell me about feelings with which he's been struggling for a while. But then more residents came in for exercise, and B stopped talking. So after exercise was over and everyone else left, I walked over to B so we could talk some more.
He told me about his feelings of failing his wife. How he regretted the fact that work had kept him so busy it seemed he wasn't able to "be" everything his wife wanted him to be. And he talked about never ever seeing his own parents express affection to one another. I could only assume he had carried that model into his own marriage, and was now regretting it.
He told me about feeling inadequate as a son - the "110 pound weakling" who couldn't live up to his muscular father's expectations. He told me those feelings of inadequacy were deepened when his father (who worked at B's school) would tell him about another teenager at the school who was athletic - and whom B's father admired.
B told me he wasn't very good in most of his school subjects, and felt like a disappointment to his parents because of it.
And now he is left with an old body which is battling Parkinson's Disease, and he pretty much feels he'll be worthless for the rest of his days.
It broke my heart to hear this sweet old man reflecting on his life through the lenses of failure.
I wondered when was the last time someone spoke a kind, encouraging, uplifting word to him? It sure seemed he didn't hear many of those words as a young boy growing up.
And I was reminded once more how powerful our words can be. Those spoken, and those withheld.
We need to be built up.Who can you encourage with a kind word today?