Lifeline 

A few years ago I wroteA phone call about how one phone call can change your world. 

Today I got a phone call that changed mine. It isn’t my story so that details aren’t mine to share. But I can share the part to of the story that is mine.

Today I was on a call in which I was a lifeline. God help us all when I am the voice of reason, the one asked to reach another person, the one that has to be compassionate and logical. I can do one or the other but not both. Certainly not at the same time. I don’t have a large peripheral vision for things that I don’t understand. I am never anyone’s saving grace. It’s not my nature to not have an opinion or to hold back. 

But today I had to. 

Someone needed me. Not my opinions, not my bias, not my thoughts or my morals. They needed to be heard. And helped. And I was on the other end of the phone. Me.

A person is a person. No matter who we are or where we are from we all have a basic need: to be loved. To be cared for. To be accepted. Basic and simple but vital. And at rock bottom someone reached out and got me….me…me…and I had to provide. 

I had to hear-not just listen but really HEAR. I had to put away any pre-conceived thoughts or feelings I may have had. I had to accept and protect and respect someone’s vulnerability. Do you know how hard that is to do? 

When faced with hard things we tend to want to look around for someone else to shoulder the load or carry the burden. There was no one else today. I got the call and I had to answer. It was as plan and as terrifying as that. 

What do you say when someone has lost their way? What does a stranger do when another stranger reaches out and says I am lost and afraid? 

I am afraid too many of us say “sorry. Busy. Leave a message. Gotta run. Can’t help. Got my own issues,” or any combination there of. I get it. It’s hard to take on someone’s burden. It’s hard to shoulder someone’s load when you feel like you are carrying all you can carry. It’s hard to know what to say. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. 

Truth is that our burdens just might pale in comparison to those being carried by others. And maybe that scares us a bit. Maybe. 

You don’t have to believe what others believe to be kind. You don’t have to understand everything to be able to listen. I learned something else today: you don’t always have to be able to fix something to be helpful. Sometimes things can’t be fixed but you help just by being on the other end of the phone. 

You can’t always be prepared or trained to do what has to be done. Sometimes you have to simply be present. Just being there is all that has to be done. There are times when you need only to be still and be present. 

Each of us bears some cross. Usually we bear the weight alone. No one notices the struggle; no one sees those around them collapsing under the weight. We don’t ask for help. We don’t. We keep going and moving and become obsessed with the weight we have. 

I am guilty! Stressful job, busy life, disappointments, frustrations…I let them take over and I become so intent on managing all of it that I forget to notice those around me that are suffering. It’s not that I do not care. It’s just that I am so focused on getting by carrying my weight that I don’t even see those around me struggling with theirs anymore. 

And then there are burdens being carried that I don’t even know exist. Issues I don’t realize carry the impact that they do. But they are there. They exist. 

Today I was in a position to help someone. A stranger. A person struggling under weight I will never, ever comprehend or understand. But that didn’t stop me from trying. Because in the end we all just want to be loved, heard and to matter. Regardless of who we are, where we are from or what we believe. 

I hope I did that for someone today. 

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