by Mike Friesen
Mike is a good friend who also happens to be a brilliant writer & thinker. Whenever I am around him, I always leave feeling loved and valued. You can follow him on twitter here and read his blog here.
Recently, I was in a pretty low place. I had just received some hard news. Some things in my life weren’t materializing the way I was hoping they would. I was filled with doubt and feelings of failure. I am the type of person who tries to find the hope in everything. I am the guy who tries to find the silver lining. I had a moment in time when I was looking for the sun around me, even though all I felt was a dark cloud hanging over me.
I have the privilege of working with mentally handicapped people. For the past five-and-half years, I have worked with four mentally handicapped men who are now in their early to mid-30s. When you spend so much time with people, if you’re open to it, they become your friends. So, over the past five-and-a-half years, I have had the privilege of wiping my friends butts, applying hemorrhoid cream, cleaning up explosive diarrhea attacks, as well as having many times when they decide to wipe their runny noses on my sweater.
During this low period, I went to wake up one of the guys so that he could go to work. When he got out of bed, he looked me in the eye and said, “Mike, you look sad.” After he said that, he pulled me in, gave me a hug and said to me, “Everything is going to be okay. I love you.”
This is why mentally handicapped people and the state of being they live in is so important to our lives. Most of us, who don’t know how to need, are humiliated by the thought of having someone wipe their butts, apply hemorrhoid cream, clean up diarrhea, and having a shoulder to wipe our runny noses on. It takes someone who knows they need help. It takes someone who knows that they can’t do things on their own. It takes someone fragile. But, if it weren’t for that fragility, they would not have expressed their tender hearts to the fragility of others. There was something in his fragility that knew that I was hurting and I needed him.
On the days when we feel hurt, rejected, abandoned, lost, or confused, our natural tendency is to put up walls and protect ourselves from further pain. But, what we really need is someone in our lives who says, “I see you. I recognize you. I’m sorry. I am with you. I will walk with you. Everything will be okay.”
If you’re interested in reading more about the power of fragility, read Becoming Human, by Jean Vanier. It is a powerful book about what happens to us when our achievements and success mean nothing, and all we can give is our fragile love.