I feel like I'm finally starting something important. They just gave me my card key to the Distress Centre and I finished off the volunteer training this afternoon!! (Well, part A, at least) Yay! Now, on to the supervision shifts. This is pretty EXCITING! In short order I shall be conversing with lonely, suicidal, grieving, anxious, or otherwise crisis-stricken - but still perfectly capable - people. And also with inappropriate jerks that call with... other... intentions. We're told to just hang up on them.
I feel so professional. I have status in an office building downtown. (Did I mention I have a key?) My name is on the list of volunteers. I can park FOR FREE, but only after the supervision shifts have been completed. And I can even play a part in breaking confidentiality and notifying the police when something really serious comes up! Actually, this feeling of surging power is very satisfying, which is a good indicator that nobody should ever allow me unrestricted political authority over other people or else I will probably turn into a horrible, evil, cackling dictator of some sort.
But I am not a dictator. I am a volunteer worker at a crisis centre. And in training, the bosses told us something really special. Human suffering is sacred ground. As frustrating as the work may get, it is an incredible honour and a privilege to be allowed to enter into somebody else's suffering. For some callers, we may well be the only people they ever confide a problem to. And some callers with behavioural problems have no friends, are mostly abandoned by their families, and are barely tolerated by those who are paid to help them. We may be the only UNpaid people that will interact with them. We are the lifeline for some people and they call every day for seventeen years because we are the only ones that listen. What a place to be! A place for incredible gratitude and great respect.
Here's hoping I can do this role and these people justice. Please pray for me.
Let's go with some good old Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”