2011 has been the Year of the Wallow for me.
First, I lost my sweet daddy and then my beloved Ripley — both quite suddenly. Those two events, combined with some other personal struggles, have made this one of the most challenging years I’ve ever had.
And so I gave myself permission to wallow. I flung myself headlong into the pit of despair and did the backstroke in it. I threw myself one hell of a pity party complete with (WAY too much) cake. I asked why all these things had to happen to ME. What had I done to deserve this?
Believe me, it was the wallow of all wallows.
Then I logged on to my computer Friday and that party came to an abrupt end.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the news. I felt physically sick. I began to tremble. I couldn’t grasp the horror of what had happened.
I still can’t.
Sometimes – well, most of the time – I don’t understand how the world works. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people. I truly WANT to believe that good triumphs over evil, that kindness is rewarded, and that the guys in the white hats always win. But the reality is that that’s simply not always the case.
For this to happen to Sandra of all people seems especially cruel. She’s a woman with a heart the size of her home state. She goes out of her way to be kind, to lend a helping hand, to lift up those who are at their lowest.
I have often wondered how many other people passed our precious Shelby on that hot Texas day. How many must have noticed this battered, sick, defeated dog and decided she wasn’t worth their time. But not Sandra. Sandra stopped. And when she did, she was saying, “You are worthy…of my time, my love, my home, my heart.” And although I’m not an especially religious person, every time I think of that story, I am reminded of Jesus saying, “That which you do unto the least of these, you do unto to me.”
There is surely a special place in heaven for Sandra for this one gesture alone. Yet, for Sandra, this was not an isolated act. She lives her life whole-heartedly and she does it without thinking it’s anything special.
And that is part of why this is so hard to comprehend.
I struggled with this over the weekend. If God exists, why would He allow this to happen to someone like her and to all those sweet dogs who were finally in a place where they were safe and loved?
I don’t know.
But this is what I DO know and this is what has gotten me through…
Goodness does exist in the midst of evil. It comes in the form of countless gentle souls who are ready to lift us up when we’re at our lowest, who stop what they’re doing when we’re battered and defeated, who reach out a hand and say, “You are worthy.”
I know this because I have personally experienced it time and again over the last year.
I also know we all wish desperately we could turn back time, change things, take away this pain from her. We wish there wasn’t a reason to give money or send cards or leave encouraging words. We wish that this unspeakable heartbreak had never happened to our friend.
But it did. And it hurts so damn much. So while no one could possibly blame us for taking some time to have a good wallow, I know firsthand that it can be far too easy to focus on the negativity and unfairness of life. Instead, I hope that as we heal, what we learn from this is the importance of living more purposefully, more kindly, more whole-heartedly…more like Sandra.
If we do, the guys in the white hats WILL win.
I know it.