Don’t call us, we’ll call you

February 2, 2015

Privilege

I wrote this back in July 2014 and I’m not sure why I never posted it. So, here.

“Would Lindsay be able to help me with this?”

I recognized the voice immediately, even though he was an exceptionally soft-spoken man. Or perhaps it was because of his gentle tone, not in spite of it. There’s no shortage of booming voices in this mountain town and we hear a lot of them at the Resource Center. My heart swelled just a bit that Greg was back and asking for me. Although he wasn’t one of my usual clients, I had spent several hours with him over the last month: finding job postings, applying for insurance, and seeking prescription assistance after his employer unceremoniously dropped his health insurance.

It was the latter appointment that was most memorable. As I began filling out the paperwork with the contact information I was beginning to know well, I asked what specific prescriptions he needed help with. He slowly pulled out a packet of carefully folded prescription receipts, drug usage information, and two business cards for his doctor and therapist. He placed each one on my desk, smoothing them out one-by-one. When he was finished, he held up his hands in a gesture to calm me and said, “Now, don’t jump out of your chair or anything, but they say I have . . . I think it’s called paranoid schizophrenia. The medicine is for that.” After a pause, he added, “But I’m not going to hurt you.”

There was no fear in me, just a sudden ache. Can you imagine feeling that you had to make that disclaimer every time you sat down in someone’s office? Several responses crossed my mind in that moment, and I almost blurted out, I’ve been locked down in a jail before – you got nothing on that! But I finally leaned toward him and said, “I’m so glad you came. I think we can help. And I’m so glad you’re seeing a counselor to help you through this. Keep going.”

Over the next hour, I filled out the paperwork, made calls to several pharmacies, and verified the needed prescriptions and costs. I sent him home with a promise that I would personally check on the progress of his prescriptions, even though my job generally ends at the paperwork. There was something about the anxiety in his request that made me want to give him some extra assurance.

It had been several weeks since that visit and I hadn’t seen Greg. I wondered how he was: if his prescriptions were holding up while he waited for new insurance; if he had found a job that he could actually afford the gas to get to; if he would feel comfortable seeing me again after having to lay bare so much of his medical history the last time. “Would Lindsay be able to help me with this?” was just exactly what I wanted to hear. It meant that he believed me. He believed that I was glad he came. He believed that I would help him.

Back in January when I was stressing that my teaching hours would be reduced, I had no idea that another opportunity was waiting just around the corner. But not just any opportunity; this is an opportunity 17 years in the making. See, when I was 17 years old I received my patriarchal blessing, a blessing of guidance and direction that all Mormons can receive. Over the years, one line in particular has followed me: “You will have the privilege of working among the people in the communities in which you reside.” It would be difficult to quickly encapsulate how this statement has influenced my life. When I was young and naïve, I thought the community I would work in would probably just be THE WORLD. Or maybe that would be too broad, maybe just the whole United States. I wanted to move to Washington, D.C. as soon as possible so I could start working on changes in the “community.” Apparently my teenage brain read that line as “You will change the world! No big deal.”

Even when I decided to narrow my vision and worked with some legitimately community-based organizations (book donations for struggling schools, domestic violence shelter, teen mentoring), it never felt quite like the realization of that promise. Until now. I’m not exaggerating when I say that nearly every single day of work at the Resource Center, I feel an overwhelming sense that this is precisely the fulfillment of that long-ago promise. This is the community. This is the work. This is the privilege. I have people like Greg to thank for that.

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2 Comments »

  1. I love this so much. What a beautiful post. Your community is so blessed to have you!

    Comment by Kristin — February 2, 2015 @ 1:19 am

  2. It’s a privilege to be your friend. Thanks for all the help you’ve given me.

    Comment by Victoria — February 22, 2015 @ 10:11 am


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