Doug Tales 46: Doug as an Empath, Part Three

What do you “see” when you look at other people? Can you “see” others with different eyes by being filled with God’s love? Doug Mendenhall met a young man at a hospital, whose “skin on his arms and neck were covered with harsh tattoos, [but] the love around us didn’t see the tattoos.” This experience is from My Peace I Give Unto You (2001) on pages 82-86:

My daughter Denise finally drifted off so I took the opportunity to go down to the cafeteria and get a bite to eat. In the elevator I again opened up to the children in the hospital. It gave me such a renewed sense of awe in their strength knowing what they suffered. This time, though, I was able to let it all pass through me and I became aware of how the love pervaded all the pains and burdens, willing to comfort and relieve but waiting.

The elevator doors opened and I made my way the last fifty feet to the cafeteria. I noticed a small group of people about half way to the counter, a woman, a baby and a young man. The young man immediately caught my attention because he had the look of a hardened gang member. All the visible skin on his arms and neck was covered with harsh tattoos. His clothes looked like those worn by all the gang members highlighted by the media during drug raids and drive-by shootings. Where revulsion normally would have surfaced I felt love for him. I knew that the love around us didn’t see the tattoos or clothes or anything that tied him to a degenerate lifestyle. It saw him as but a part of the whole that we all are. As I looked at him I felt his fear and uncertainty behind a façade of anger. I wanted to shout at him that his life choices had been paid for in full and that comfort was his if only he would ask our Father in Heaven.

Instead I approached him. I wanted to know more of this young man that I loved and appreciated.

“Hi, I couldn’t help but notice your beautiful baby. It just breaks my heart to see such lovely children in the hospital.”

“Uh…She isn’t mine and no she isn’t a patient here.” He reached into his back pocket for a wallet attached to a chain connected to a front belt loop. “It’s my niece that is a patient here. She has leukemia. See here…this is her picture…She isn’t very old but they say she needs a bone marrow transplant.” His openness filled me with wonder and awe.

“She looks like a little angel. I’m sorry to hear that she is so sick.”

“Yea, she isn’t doing so well so I’m gonna be the donor for the transplant.” He flooded me with fear and concern. The love he felt for that little girl would have been noticeable even without the gift I was enjoying.

“Wow, that is very noble of you. Thank you for sharing that with me,” I replied. I was flooded with respect, love and empathy for him. I wanted to reach out and hug him and comfort him.

But instead I said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m keeping you from eating. Good luck, she’s worth it.” I wanted to tell him that he was worth it, worth the price paid for by our Savior. But I had to leave before I broke down in tears at the love that I felt for that young man.

I headed back up to Denise’s room where I sat and pondered the experiences of the day. I became acutely aware of the gift that our Savior is. He stands by us experiencing our lives with us, comforting and loving us, willing to take from us the pain we cause ourselves through our poor decisions and He comforts us in those trials we agreed to experience for all. I became completely humbled at what He had done for Dianne and myself just a few weeks earlier when He took our pain and anguish and suffered for us while He gave us His peace to comfort us.

I learned that night that the baskets we weave are but a part of His basket, a single basket that He loves and cherishes for He loves and cherishes each of us as a part of it. As I finally drifted off to sleep on the little hospital cot by Denise’s window, my last thoughts were of being one with Our Father and Christ….

I was startled awake when I just about rolled off the cot and onto the floor. New sunshine peaked through the blinds to tell me I had been asleep for at least three hours despite the screaming denial of my body. Slowly I sat up and stretched. I looked over to Denise and found her intently studying me.

“Morning sweetie.” A smile was too much to give out with the stiffness I felt, so I settled on a half grin.

“Hi Daddy,” she replied.

I felt a twinge of energy around me and suddenly memories of yesterday exploded within my mind. Could I still feel the people around me? Somehow I opened myself up like I had yesterday. Yes, it was still there, the gift hadn’t been taken away yet.

I stood and stretched some more, opening up to the people within the hospital. Denise watched me with what seemed to be understanding and smiled.