This has been one of those weeks where I am really amazed by people.
Yesterday I got to go to court for the first time for my practicum. I watched several people who were applying for protection orders. Only one of them was our client but I stayed after to watch the others, just to see more of the process. There was this one girl, she was standing up there and I couldn’t stop looking at her hands. She was wringing them and squeezing her fingers so tightly. It was clear that she was terrified, so frightened to be in that courtroom, in front of the judge. I’m sure it was terrifying to be standing next to this guy who had been harassing her. The judge granted the order and I was just overwhelmed by how incredibly brave people are. To the point where I actually teared up in the courtroom, and again writing about it last night.
A couple days ago I was running around town dropping off posters for our upcoming training at various places around town. I ran into a woman who I’ve known for a number of years. She goes to my parent’s church and so I never really know what to say to her. But she has always been very nice and this day she was bright and cheerful and asked how I was doing so I responded in kind. With one of the happiest smiles I’ve ever seen, she told me she was getting married. This particular individual was part of one of the first really brutal divorces I ever came in contact with as a young teen. It involved two couples in our church and it was truly brutal and messy. She was very definitely one of the wronged parties. I was delighted for her, I asked her to tell me all about him, tell me all of the things. She did and we talked for a while. I told her how happy I was for her and she said, “Yeah. It makes life more interesting, more… sparkly.” I think she was actually glowing. And again, I was so overwhelmed by how brave people are, how resilient. Here is a woman who was absolutely wronged and betrayed in a truly harsh and cruel way. How brave is it to trust someone again, to fall head over heels in love again? That’s like superhero levels of strength right there. To dare to be so happy that you can’t even contain yourself. What a beautiful, foolish, and amazing thing to do.
I feel strange admitting it sometimes, because it is so much the opposite of how I was raised, so much the opposite of the intense cynicism that I held onto for such a long time. But the real truth is that at this point in my life I am almost never so overwhelmed by the evil and terrible things people are capable of as I am by the truly amazing and beautiful things people are capable of. They are both immense, they are both significant. But it’s the latter that gives meaning, that is truly amazing to me. I am almost never in awe of the brutality people are capable of, most of the time I can’t even bring myself to be surprised. But do you know how many people get up and walk away? How many people take terrible things that have been done to them and make something beautiful out of them? Or maybe it’s nothing that extreme. Maybe they just make small but incredibly brave steps. Maybe they never actually break the cycle completely, maybe they never really manage to shake free but they try so hard and they do something significant that does change the pattern, alters the steps. I think it’s the closest thing to magic that we get on this earth and I’m so grateful for the chance to witness it from time to time.