I regular scan the post of the more than 25,000 members of various suicide prevention groups on Facebook. It may be surprising to those who know what I do that I never respond to such post. One reason I don’t is because there are typically dozens if not hundreds of people reaching out to the poster. Most that respond offer sound words of encouragement, some are obviously trained in intervention. There is no need for me to add my two cents.
The primary reason I don’t respond is because I have 3,300 Facebook friends that know that if they have a crisis, I will do what I can to help. Add to that the 22,000 participants that have sat in my intervention course, and you begin to understand. Most days I get at least one call or a text from a friend in crisis or who has a friend in crisis. Just this past week I added a friend to my phone’s favorite list so that he could reach me after hours. He is one of only a dozen on my favorites list that can get through at night. The others are my boys, my mom, three Police Chiefs, a couple of officers, and the Sheriff.
It's not that I don’t care. I just know that “Nobody can eat 50 eggs.” The baby boomers will remember that quote from Dragline in the movie Cool Hand Luke. In the movie Luke didn’t die from eating eggs, he was shot by No Eyes. While Luke survived 50 eggs, the New York Post reported that a man in India died on egg 41 of his 50 egg challenge. There’s a lot of crazy challenges that can be deadly. Thinking that we can save the world is one of them.
Several years ago, when local papers were still thrown on the driveway, I read the frontpage headline that a veteran in our community had taken his life. Sherry had just put breakfast on the table as I walked in tossing the paper on the table and mumbling to myself. Sherry inquired into what I was talking about. I told her a veteran killed himself. She could see that I was upset. She asked if I knew him. I said no. She responded, “then how were you supposed to help?” My quick retort, “Someone should have called me.” Looking back now I know it was a nonsensical thought. My wife continued to engage me, finally speaking a word that was hard to hear, but one that eventually set me free. “You do know you are not God, right?” While getting to the place of knowing that I can’t save every hurting person was a process that took time, it was absolutely necessary to get to that point. Nobody can eat 50 eggs. I have been reminded of that reality more than 70 times in the past two years and with half a dozen funerals that I have officiated for friends and several veterans that I never knew.
Those who care for others must care for themselves. Selfcare is not a selfish thing, it is a vital prerequisite to helping others. Thirty-eight times in the scripture we read that Jesus would seek solitude. He would awake before dawn to be alone. When he heard of John’s death, he went off alone, after he fed five thousand, he sent the disciples away and went to be alone. In the flesh as a man the Bible tells us that Jesus would be weary. Solitude was absolutely essential. It was in that place where he could commune with the Father and be restored. It was there that the vision and mission to which he was called would find renewed strength.
These are challenging times for all of us and especially those who are caregivers. As you take care of others do not overlook the need to take care of yourself. Those who count on you will be better served when you remember that you count too. Nobody can eat fifty eggs.