It seems to me that sometimes when we lose someone we love, our sensitivity shoots up to the things we hear and these small comments or words can stay with us in a profound way. After my husband died, someone said “…he just genuinely cared for everybody around him.” All these years later, that statement resonates with me.
I think sometimes we get scared to care for others, but I also think it is not a coincidence that the term “scared” has the word “care” at the center of it. It can be scary to care for others because it makes us vulnerable and we can feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that comes with the choice to care. There is so much need; so many people suffering, if we let one person in, where will it end?! We fear being depleted and incapacitated by the thought of opening ourselves up to the world like that.
The truth is though that building walls does not just protect us from depletion; it also leaves us emotionally void and shut down. We were meant to meet need, to help each other, to support and lift each other up in hard times; and celebrate together in good times. We can open our hearts to those that come into our path and trust they came in front of us for a reason; just as we have come into others’ paths when we were suffering and they held space for us or lifted us up.
A beautiful example is a woman I heard speak about meeting Mary Kay for the first time. The woman had been promoted and in her new directorship had the opportunity to sit down briefly with Mary Kay. When she did, Mary Kay instinctively could tell something was wrong and asked the woman how she was doing. The woman opened up about her mother suffering with cancer and struggling with getting good care. Mary Kay could have just held space for this woman and listened with a caring heart and that would have, by society’s standards, been more than enough. But Mary Kay did not just listen.
She proceeded to have the woman’s mother flown to an advanced medical facility for further testing and treatment to make sure she was getting the best information, advice and care regarding her health. Mary Kay even went and visited the woman’s mom in the medical facility. She saw someone suffering, she genuinely cared, and she did what she could to help a person that was pretty much a complete stranger. If you look at Mary Kay’s life, no one could say she was depleted by the way she cared for and helped others. Quite the opposite. She was blessed beyond belief.
Choosing to care is a significant act of vulnerability. Vulnerability always comes with risks; but it also comes with rewards. Each time we choose to care and help another person, be it a stranger or friend, we become a little more human. We feel a little more alive. Our time here on earth feels a little more meaningful. “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.” -Heather Cortez