I had a meeting at Big Guy's residence today, with the people who have not been following through in getting my son the care he needs for his depression.
So I got up before dawn yesterday and spent some time praying for these people. I didn't do this because I'm some sort of saint, but because I was angry.
You might say I have a right to be angry. Well, yes -- sort of. The problem is that I'm not that good at preventing righteous anger from getting tainted with self-righteousness. I've learned the hard way that when I think I have the right to let'er rip, I've invariable made some faulty assumption, or there were extenuating circumstances I didn't know about, or I belatedly discover that I was partly to blame for the situation. Besides, let'er rip isn't usually the best way to build relationships. And I need a good working relationship with these people.
So I prayed for them. It wasn't a "Make them see that I'm right, God!" prayer. I don't much believe in those. I asked that they be given wisdom and compassion and understanding of Big Guy. And then I asked for a few drops of wisdom and understanding of the situation, myself, because I had no idea how to approach this meeting. I only knew that I needed a strategy that was collaborative instead of confrontational.
Last night I went around the corner to go to the ATM, and ran into my good friend Liz. I told her about my concerns for this meeting. She suggested that I frame things within the context of trying to understand what the residence's standards are for response time and care. "They're the experts on their organization, and they know how they work. If you focus on standards you'll get a clear picture of what to expect. And then if you lay out your concerns and it's obvious that they didn't meet their own standards, you don't have to say it. The problem will be clear to everyone. Without conflict."
Brilliant. Workable. And an answer to prayer.
This morning we had a good, constructive meeting. There were, indeed, some aspects of how the organization is structured that I did not understand. People were open and helpful and honest. I'm confident that everyone now has a better grasp of the scope of Big Guy's issues. They came up with some excellent ideas for new ways to support my son.
Tonight my heart is more peaceful, and I am filled with new respect for the people with whom I'm working. I know that the supports we've put in place won't cure Big Guy's depression, but at the same time I know there are no longer gaping holes in his safety net. That's a good thing. I'm thankful.