Defending the Defenseless
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
--Isaiah 1, 17
After Mom passed, my father completely lost the will to live. He could not do anything for himself or for anyone else, that’s how deeply he was grieving. There were five children still living at home before mom died, all between the ages of sixteen to twenty-two. Counting Dad, myself, and Natalie, we were a family of eight. And each of us was grieving. It was complete chaos, and nothing was right without Mom. She’d been the one who always shed light on everything, guiding each of us as we needed. Mom brought the light of the living God to all of us, but the younger kids who’d still been living with Mom felt her loss much deeper than the others.
I soon learned the true meaning of orphan and widow. And was obvious how profoundly my younger sister and brothers had depended on Mom compared to those no longer living at home, who were married and had families of their own. Nobody else could understand what lost souls we all were, without having gone through it themselves. And if I hadn’t been among them at the time, I, too, probably would have been blind to how hard it was for all of them.
During my journey of hardship and sorrow, which I blamed on the world around me, I prayerfully searched for answers. I was lost and searched for ways to endure my overwhelming problems, often watching family and my friends to see how they coped with losses like the kind I was having such trouble overcoming. They seemed to handle their difficulties more easily, perhaps due to their busy lives, or else by distancing themselves from anyone who would bring their spirits down.
I realize now that they managed so well because unlike me and my younger siblings, they were still grounded by some sense of a foundation. They had spouses, homes, or some family member they were close with and could rely upon, which kept them from feeling so lost.
My own losses were compounded by the strain of trying to support my younger siblings, who looked so lost. They each were struggling and crying out for help, and I reached out to help them in any way that I could, and tried to always show them compassion. I surely could relate to them, feeling so separated from my own foundations, and not wanting them to feel this same type of separation. We were basically dealing with the same level of loss.
For some mysterious reason, I found deep within me the need and desire to help them. And I noticed my heart, mind, and spirit was soothed, allowing me to feel a bit of joy coming back to me, and that lonely feeling of separation slightly diminishing as I began to feel more grounded. Whereas before I had reached out to help someone else, I could barely even function. I noticed that as I lent someone else a helping hand, I began to feel much better and started to heal.
I have learned from personal experience that we all come to know sooner or later that to transform our difficulties we must give. That is the only way we can transform our own suffering. We will not come into our own authentic power as human beings who are full of grace until we are first truly compassionate toward others. Perhaps we would not have to live through such great tragedies if we open our hearts with love, as God intended.
Until we learn to rely and depend on God as our foundation, we will come to grief as lost souls, just like widows or orphans.
Excerpt from Imprinted Wisdom ~ Catherine Nagle
Causes Catherine Nagle Supports
Church, Single Parents, Orphans, The Homeless, The emotional and physical health care and rights of children.