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I am a special education teacher in England, working in a mainstream academy with a centre for children with learning difficulties. I teach a class of 7 students of secondary age with profound and multiple learning difficulties. These include autism, visual impairment and sensory integration disorder. I love love love my job. It inspires ,enthuses .and lifts me and I never intend to retire. :)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Walking a mile in their shoes

I have always known that unless people have suffered from depression they don't really understand it . They may sympathise, they may have read up on it but that genuine understanding isn't there . I remember after being diagnosed with depression how much comfort I got from a friend who also had it . When I told her I wanted to dig a hole, get in and cover myself with leaves she didn't look at me as if I was mad , she said " oh yes , the need to hibernate that's normal" and when I told her I felt as if my brain was paralysed and I couldn't think or make decisions or do anything at all , that was in her experience too.

But suffering in one way doesn't seem to to help us empathise with another sort of suffering . I am certainly talking about myself here , and I suspect I am talking about us humans in general, such feeble selfish beings that we are . It wasn't until I had a divorce, that I understood the issues involved . I had always thought I was compassionate and caring to those in that situation but I hadn't realised the experience of bereavement and loss that it brought with it: lost plans , lost hopes and a lost future , as well as loss of a person who had been important enough to you to envisage sharing your life with . Again when having an emergency Cesarean and immediately afterwards , I was shocked at the strength of my trauma and distress . How many times had I felt sorry for someone, made noises of sympathy , prayed for them even, without realising what
what a truly horrid experience it was . The shock, the loss of control , the fear of what might happen . Each time I have suffered another of life's traumas I have made a mental note eg " if I know someone who this is happening to I must do such and such or say such and such.

Recently , after a horrible year of my life , it has seemed I have been ill with one thing , then another with no let up. I have spent 3 weeks of the holidays simply resting in the hope that my total exhaustion will go away . As I began to feel better I started to plan the activity of the next 3 weeks . Visiting friends , helping people, baking and cooking , planning for next term. I woke up on Monday morning raring to go and guess what ..... I had pulled a muscle in my shoulder while asleep [ yes that's right!!] and was in agony and barely able to move!

As I chuntered through the morning , moaning at God in self pity about how utterly fed up I was at never being right or healthy or able to do anything , I worked myself up into a state of misery where I felt I was a useless lump , helpless and dependant on others , no use to God or man and why why why and ended up crying for ages You can imagine it I've no doubt - not a pretty sight .lol Whilst sobbing I remembered [or was reminded ] of a lady at church who is in constant bad pain and in a wheelchair, completely dependant on her husband for most things . Also another close friend who is diagnosed with ME , often in bad pain and unable to do much without being exhausted and who cannot work or carry out an active ministry for God. It pulled me up short . I'm not saying that my very limited and temporary pain made me experience what they're going through , but in a very small way it gave me idea of what I was feeling might be like, multiplied a hundred fold .

I'm not saying whatever we suffer theres always someone worse off. Any suffering by an individual must be borne by them as best they can , without comparisons , but in future I want to use any experience of pain to turn my mind to prayer for others and my life to be one of real empathy for others in need . Also I'm praying that God will give me discernment when I meet others in need , as to what they are feeling and what they need from me that I can see with Gods eyes and feel with Gods heart .

This is sounding very depressing and miserable post , but I've saved the most wonderful bit till last. What an amazing example of love and empathy we have in our God . He didn't feel compassion for us from a distance , but in Jesus God became man . He has felt exhaustion and pain , hes been rejected and hated by those he loved, hes been unjustly accused and tortured and murdered . He understands how we feel in these and more situations . And He not only has been where we are so He can comfort us but He calls us through it to His resurrection and His purpose in us and through us will not be thwarted . !!

Ands thats a thought worth reflecting on . God bless x

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