|George Clooney was not in my ER. Man!|
I called the nurse to let him know the pain was much worse and that I was having trouble breathing. His response was, "Well, the doctor will see you when he can." And then he simply left.
But I. Can't. Breathe.
Then my husband arrived. (He had to wait on his parents to get to our house to watch the kids.) He saw the pain I was in and that I was having trouble breathing, so he went to the nurses' station and told them that I was in severe pain and couldn't breathe. Their response? "Well, the doctor will see her when he can."
Now, I know they need to see the most severe ER cases first. I know that. If someone's arm is severed or someone is bleeding and near death, they need attention first. I totally get that. I didn't expect a hoard of medical professionals to rush to my aid. But I expected someone to care. Breathing is pretty essential, from what I've heard. And it's scary not to breathe. I felt suffocated, and the more I tried to breathe, the less successful I seemed to be. I needed help.
Sometimes people can't breathe. Not physically, but emotionally or spiritually. They feel like they're drowning in their lives. They've experienced a tragedy, are in the midst of depression, or they're simply overwhelmed by life, and it feels like no air is available.
When we notice these people, what do we do? Do we come alongside them? Do we do what we can to help them breathe, whether it's prayer or simple friendship? Or do we say to ourselves the equivalent of, "The doctor will see them when he can?" and wait for someone else to take care of them?
As someone who is still working through some postpartum depression, I can tell you I've gotten mixed responses while I've been unable to "breathe." I've had friends who check up on me, pray for me, send me notes of encouragement, offer to help with the kids, try to get me out of the house and involved in my life again. They've encouraged me spiritually and emotionally, and they've done all they can to make me feel loved—whether or not I've been up to accepting it. On one of my really bad days when I first started thinking I might be dealing with PPD, one of my Twitter friends had me call her and she talked through it with me. I've never met Lauren Hale, but as someone who has experienced PPD, she knew I needed to talk to someone about it. So, essentially, even a stranger reached out to me because she could see that I was unable to breathe.
I've also had friends who haven't said or done anything to help. Not that I think they don't care about me (well, maybe they don't—I hope that's not the case!), but sometimes they don't know what to do or how to help. The result is that they just kind of ignore me until they think I'm feeling better. I'm not mad at them for it—I know it can be awkward when you don't know what to do or how to help. But it's a little disappointing, you know? And if you're one of my friends who's reading this and you think you may fall into this group, it's OK. I understand. I still love you!
I'd encourage you to take a look around your life. Is there anyone who seems to be having a hard time? Anyone who seems unable to breathe, emotionally or spiritually? Pray for them. Send them a note—even an e-mail—to tell them you're thinking about them and praying for them. You can offer further help if you feel prompted (meals, help at home), but offering love and prayer is doing something. Just noticing them is something.
You never know—it may be your love, attention, and prayer that helps them breathe again.