Monday, August 8, 2016

Tikkun Olam--Repair the World

We went out to dinner a few nights ago with an amazing couple and, while chatting about various things, they brought up this phrase that really resonated with me. 
Tikkun olam.

It is a Hebrew phrase that means "repair the world."  

I thought a lot about what that means--leave the world a better place; look for opportunities to serve and lift; pick up litter.   :-)  After a couple of days, I started to realize that, for me, it has another meaning as well.  

I think that this phrase could have something to do with the repair of souls.  As we work on becoming the best people that we can--at peace with ourselves, clear perspective, understanding our purpose--we become capable of opening our eyes and seeing what God wants us to, both in and about others.

Simultaneously, I have thought a lot about the purpose of people who have special needs.  I know...sounds strange.  To be clear, I have a strong testimony that those born with disabilities were some of the most choice spirits in the pre-existence (pre-earth life) and that God sent them here to get a body (part of his plan), but allowed it to be a body with special needs to protect that choice spirit.  Matt, for example, will not have some of the same temptations, trials, and struggles that a typically developing kid will.  He will not struggle with peer pressure, work to avoid addiction, take advantage of people, or be a mean person who does bad things with ill-intent.  Matt will be protected, literally, by his disability from things that would keep him from returning to God.  He is "safe," so to speak.  I understand all of that so clearly and there is a gift in understanding that perspective because it helps me deal with insane amounts of fecal matter, scratching, chucking food/other objects, screaming, and other equally frustrating behaviors.  

All that said, I think they have a mission--a purpose--beyond just getting a body.  I think they were sent here to repair the repair our souls.  

If you spend any amount of time with a person who has special needs, you will immediately note the absence of gile, the rawness and realness of their emotion, the ability to love without caveats.  To see this, you sometimes have to look past a messy face because they can't properly swallow their food or don't know to wipe their face.  You might have to pretend you aren't startled by a tick or a vocal outburst.  You might have to see past a behavior to the functional purpose behind it--they want your attention and love, but don't know how to get it in a socially appropriate way.  If you invest enough to do this, your soul will be affected.  

On Sunday at church, Matt could not sit still.  He had ants in his pants big time.  That little boy, who was frustrating the heck out of us at home and had made a giant mess with items he had swept off the counter before church and who had danced naked in the bathroom as poop fell off his bum and then pooped in the tub full of water for the second time in a week....that same little boy decided to do a little "repair" in his small world.  He cannot talk, but he squacked "happy! happy" and pointed to people he recognized that were speaking in church.  He chased after someone he recognized as she walked between pews and pulled her down for a hug.  He kept bolting from my arms to a girl he had never met to throw his arms around her neck.  He hugged a dear friend who needed a hug three different times and called her "cookie" as she is a master baker (he doesn't forgot someone who brings him cookies).  I realized as I watched this that it was inspiring me to look more closely at him because HE was my example that day.  You repair the world through love.  You repair souls through love. 

I have been so anxious as I consider the state of the world.  My kids, who have been taught that all people are our brothers and sisters and have never seen color before, will be able to watch the news someday where they will hear phrases like "black lives matter" and see fights/arguments over race when they never considered that there was a "black" and "white."  They might hear a self-absorbed presidential candidate with no class whatsoever call a person with a disability the derogatory "R" word when they have seen tolerance and acceptance modeled both at home and by their friends.  If we could all attempt to look outside of ourselves, through a window rather than a mirror, and apply that beautiful phrase Tikkun Olam, that would literally solve most of the worlds problems. 

My Matt, Adina's Brielle, Aman's Sukman, Annie's Shawn, Sandra's Tony, Allison's Drew....these kids were sent to us with the purpose of helping to repair our souls.  They refine us through painful fire as we are daily dealing with unpredictability and struggling to understand and find purpose in the trials that sometimes accompany their varying disabilities.  But they also are helping their little worlds to become better by blessing the souls of those they come in contact with....IF those they come in contact with allow themselves to be influenced by their amazing spirits.