Dan Piper tells a story of the first time he met a 15-year old boy named Sam. Sam was in an Atlanta hospital and in bad shape. He and his friend had been running jet skis on a lake when Sam's leg got caught between the 2 skis and was almost severed. To make things worse, the lake wasn't clean. Sam had a massive open wound and was in danger of severe infection. When he got to the hospital, doctors weren't sure they could save his leg. But they did save his leg and placed a fixator on it. A fixator is an immobilization device used to hold rods and pins through fractured bones.
When Don met him, Sam was depressed. Don understood the pain that Sam was going through and talked about the fixator he had worn on his leg for months. He had no idea if his words meant anything to Sam. But when he showed pictures of his leg in a fixator he said, "My well is a lot deeper than it used to be."
How true that is. Don was declared dead for 30 minutes after a car accident that nearly took his life. Not only are those words true for Don but they are also true for countless others.
Until we've been knocked down, had our hearts broken, or suffered deep grief, we can't relate to people like Sam. I reflected on my own role as a healer and the people I met through the healing groups I've volunteered with over the years.
It was apparent to me that coping with the cancer treatment in 2001 and eventual paralysis in 2003 got me to relate to people differently. Not that my words of encouragement and comfort changed, but I had changed.
Don said, "My well is deeper". So is mine. I have more depth from which to draw living water. I gave of myself as much as I knew how. But since those days, I know I have much more of myself to give.
There is no substitute for pain, suffering, and heartaches to deepen our wells of understanding. When tragedy falls, we can spend the rest of our lives in regret - and many do - or we can use our misfortunes to help others.
About a year later, Sam's mother emailed Don to tell him about Sam's visit for an orthopedic checkup. While in the waiting room, Sam saw a young girl with a fixator on her leg. Sam got up and walked over to the girl. He sat down beside her and said, "I know you hate that and the pain is awful. I know. I had one of them on my leg for months."
Sam's mother listened as Sam brought comfort and encouragement to the girl. "I want you to know that this has come full circle," Sam's mother wrote. "My son is doing for others the kind of thing you did for him." At the end of her email, she added, "There were many times we never thought we'd get this far."
When those things happen, we see the grace of the Universe at work. We become divine instruments to ease the pain and hardship of others. But first, we have to get outside of ourselves and move beyond our own pain. We need to see the circunstances that we've gone through as meaningful. Then we can understand how to relate to others.
When we move outside of our own troubles, we not only help others, but we help ourselves. That's when we recognize the truth that everything works together for good in the lives of those who believe in an abundant, loving Universe.