Leah was getting burned out. She didn't know if she could continue at this pace. The solutions were more draining than the problem.
Leah had a troubled past. Having been abused by her father, rejected and used by other men, and lost a child during pregnancy, Leah hated what she saw in the mirror. She was caught in a spiral of self-hate and destructive behavior.
At first, Leah thought her friend Tom had some good ideas. She was trying it all: praying and meditating, journaling, reading self-help books, going out with friends to have fun, even taking a vacation. But she quickly found all of these things draining and it seemed like doing them took more effort than just wallowing in her depression. So to that she returned.
Tom tried to persuade her back into the therapeutic activities, but to no avail. On days she worked, she was like a zombie. On the other days, she never even got out of bed.
One day, while watching TV, Leah saw a story about a local shelter that was for women and children, many of whom were escaping the kind of hurt and pain that had been real in her life. She heard stories of abuse that were worse than her own. Her eyes welled up with tears and her heart with anger. 'No one should have to go through what I have.' But she quickly felt her rage morph into something else, something she couldn't explain at the time...
Leah called Tom and told him that she was going to go volunteer at this shelter. Tom became indignant and expressed his concern. 'There's no way she can go there,' Tom thought. 'It will hit too close to home. The abused women; the children she wasn't able to have. It will only reopen old wounds.' But try as he might, Tom couldn't dissuade her.
After not hearing from Leah for weeks, Tom was beyond worried. He called and stopped by, but she was never home. Finally, Tom saw Leah at a local coffee shop. He didn't recognize her at first. She was sitting, talking to a younger woman. Leah's face had a vitality to it that Tom had not seen for some time. Her eyes were bright. Her frown and lackadaisical demeanor had turned into an attentive posture, focused intently on this young woman.
Finally, they made eye contact. "Tom!" Leah exclaimed. "Excuse me a second," she said to the other woman as she got up and ran to hug him.
"Leah, I've been so worried about you," Tom said in a hushed voice. "I haven't been able to contact you. I was concerned about what you were getting into. You need to be focusing on yourself right now."
Leah straightened and looked at him, not quite smiling. "But I was, Tom," she said. "I was deep within that dark place. I'm not going back."
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."
- Matthew 16:25