I watched my 20 month old grandson fall down the cement steps in the garage today.
I was only 2 steps behind him, but I couldn't reach him in time. And because he was holding a little cup of Cheerios in with both hands, there was nothing to break his fall. I watched his little forehead hit hard and bounce off the floor. It was one of those events in life that felt like it was happening in slow motion, you know? I was simultaneously cognizant of what was happening as well as my inability to stop it. Before he even hit the ground, I knew-- I KNEW-- the result could be very bad, and that he would most certainly be in a lot of pain.
I scooped him up and looked for blood. He was so shocked, he could hardly even cry- he just opened his mouth and choked out a mangled sob. After I handed him to his mom, she looked him over head to toe to see if there was any damage we hadn't seen at first. He caught his breath and cried his head off while we tried to soothe him the best we could.
Fortunately, the only damage done seems to be a pretty good goose-egg on his forehead. In fact, at the time of this writing, which is only a couple of hours later, he seems to have completely forgotten about it. Meanwhile, just reliving the replay in my mind gives me the same "pit-in-the-bottom-of-my-stomach" kind of feeling that I had before.
I've decided that helplessness is the worst of all feelings.
Helplessness and hopelessness are inextricably linked in some ways. Had anything serious happened to Chet - had he lost consciousness or something worse, I know I would have run that scene over and over again in my mind -- especially the awful part where I see his foot leave the step and I lunge a millisecond too late.
I've felt both helpless and hopeless as I've watched friends and loved ones slide headlong into addictions, sink into fresh waves of depression, and begin ill-fated relationships which left lasting damage.
I've seen people fall out of true love that had gotten a bit dusty and into lust, which soon destroyed their families. Others have run away from a God who loves them and into the chasm of nothingness. And I often feel like I'm too late. I can't help. I lose hope.
This is what it is to be human. We have so many limitations, including our ability to help. And it's hard to work up hope when you can't help.
If there were no God, there would be no reason to hope. The damage is already done. Some wounds are fresh, still bleeding. Others are angry red scars.
And yet, there's healing.
Or at least, there can be.
I can't always help others. Sometimes I can't even help myself.
But I've found help and hope in the same place I find Love.