Friday, March 31, 2006

I was a hit!

They laughed.
They cried.
They cheered.
They sat on the edges of their seats.

I laughed.
I cried.
I applauded them.
I stood on heels of my sandals.

Today's talk went extremely well. So well in fact, that the Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Workers (I'm sure there's an official title that I've forgotten) who was in attendance asked if I'd be willing to give the same talk to the state wide conference of social workers at the beginning of May. Wow! I was honored to be asked, and I'm thrilled to be able to lift the spirits of a few dozen more people who have given their lives to serve "the least of these."

The highlight of the day for me, however, was listening to the final speaker, a woman who has seen and been through it all: abuse, addiction, prison, losing her children to "the system" - but she stood before us today approaching her ten year mark of "being clean," with her children back in her custody, along with her three grandchildren.

She spoke honestly and passionately about the pain she has endured in her life and the pain she has inflicted on others. She spoke even more energetically and poignantly about the victories she has experienced and the growth that she contines to see in herself. She spoke of "the sleeping monster" of addiction that still lives within her and the daily decisions she must make to keep that monster at bay. She thanked the social workers for their hard work and told them that it was because of the undaunting courage of one of their own that she was able to begin the long road back to recovery.

She made us laugh.
She made us cry.
She stood before us as a living testimony to the perseverance of underpaid, overworked men and women who have not given up the fight against addiction, poverty, and despair. She stood as a living testimony that if we are willing to face the monsters and seek the help we need, we can wrestle them into submission. And she reminded us that there are no victories that can be taken for granted. Daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, we must all make the right choice when the decision is before us.

I wept for her. I wept along with her. I wiped my running mascara and smudged blush as she gave thanks to God for the strength that He provides to her as she raises her grandchildren, as she helps her children recover from the pain she admits that she caused.

I have never heard such a powerful, transparent, strong, victorious speaker in all my life. My meager motivational speech paled in comparison with her first-person account of the power of prayer, perseverance, and persistence. I will never forget her. Ever.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and prayers going into today's event. Who knows? I may soon be coming to speak at a convention center near you!

On a sad note, the little boy I mentioned in yesterday's blog remains in a coma. I received a phone call today informing me that the doctors say he has suffered irreparable brain damage due to lack of oxygen. His mother and many others are now praying for a miraculous healing. We continue to pray for him and for her, knowing that these coming days will be indescribably challenging as we wait and hope.
Kyrie Eleison.
Lord, have mercy.

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