Because I know what is on each floor of the hospital, and because certain kinds of issues and cases are all grouped together on similar floors, and because hospitals leave families so raw and exhausted, it is often easy to tell what people are enduring by the looks on their faces and which elevator buttons they push, without even asking them anything.
The same is kind of true in therapy in general, that because behaviors and interactional patterns are grouped into diagnostic categories, and because I am trained to see these the same as my preschoolers are trained to recognize red or blue or their letters or numbers, it is sometimes apparent what people are struggling with by what they do or don’t do, or what they say or don’t say.
I mean, Nathan has a good rule about me not diagnosing people in public, but it makes reality shows on television fun to watch because I can see what I see and know what I know but not actually have to intervene at all, right? It’s just television, not my responsibility.
That’s a version of living in pre-mortality, knowing what we know but not actually doing anything. I talk about that in my In The Beginning book, and Nathan talked about it this morning in the marriage class we teach on Saturdays. He said when we lived with Heavenly Father, we already learned and knew so much. We didn’t come to Earth just to learn more, like from a book. We came to Earth to practice what we have learned, like the way we practice piano and learn more only by doing.
Sometimes what we need to practice are new skills, like learning how to parent pre-teens after you learned how to parent preschoolers. Other times what we need to practice are un-learning the wrong skills, just like how practicing the wrong fingering in scales develops the habit of playing the scale wrong. Other times our lessons are about the learning itself, like how to keep trying or how to practice longer or how to have a better attitude about practicing in the first place.
Sometimes it’s about asking for help from someone who already has those skills, and I have loved the push recently from our church leadership about asking experts. It’s really helped us in unexpected ways. We aren’t afraid to ask for second opinions for Kyrie. When our house drama happened, I used the free legal services through my employment to help us fight that. We even have our own family counselor for us and all the children as suggested by the palliative care team, and which makes perfect sense when you look at all of what our family has been through in the last five years.
It helps, asking for help.
My home teacher from four years ago helped us find our new house. My visiting teachers have checked on my children, and checked on me, and been an ever present reminder that our family is not forgotten. Friends, who have already moved us (and our swingset) eight hundred times are already asking how they can help when it is time.
Our children are healthy and well as much from the prayer warriors surrounding us like choirs of Christmas angels, as much as anything from our own parenting. It makes it tricky to remember if the children are the miracle, or if the miracle is the faith of so many fervent prayers.
The children, of course, like pushing the elevator buttons. Living in hospitals as much as we do, between my work and all their issues, they get to push these kinds of buttons most every week if not several times a week. We go to so many appointments and have to go to so many different departments that we can even take turns with who is pushing which button when.
Except for the fact that Kyrie thinks she is already three, and so she is the boss of the buttons.
Except that she can only reach the alarm button.
And because it rings so loud, she is delighted with pushing the alarm button as often and as many times as she can get away with – it’s a Pavlovian experiment gone wrong.
What we have learned is which hospital has a company in India who answers their elevator alarms, and which hospital has a company in Singapore who answers their elevator alarms.
It’s a thing. Who knew?
Alex did it at the court house the day he was adopted. We finished his finalization, and they announced his new name, and we snapped a few pictures. Then he promptly ran out into the hallway and pulled the fire alarm.
We are a six alarm kind of family.
Except also, some things really are that hard, or really have been that bad, or maybe you really are that stuck. That’s when you need to ring the alarm and call for help. That’s why it’s there.
That’s why someone carved “I heart you” under the alarm button, did you notice? It always makes my children feel like they have been hugged. Because, according to Mary, “when you need help, for real, and ask for it, for real, it gives people a chance to love you and gives you a chance to feel loved.”
I think it’s true.
Life is hard. It’s gross. It hurts.
But you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone, and you aren’t forgotten.
Take a deep breath, even that counts as an act of faith, when your only prayers are tears. He already knows you, and already knows what is going on, and already has a plan to help. He’s not going to be intrusive or compel you. He’s just waiting for you to make your own choices, like choosing which floor you’re going to when you visit the hospital. He already knows what’s on the floor where you are getting off. He’s just waiting for you to talk about it.
Saying your prayers is like pushing the alarm button. I promise someone will really answer. They aren’t kidding around about those elevator alarms.