Our Children are Watching

John O'Leary
March 23, 2020

John O'Leary

#1 National Bestselling Author & Speaker Expected to Die. Now Teaching Others How to Truly Live.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." Fred Rogers

As our nation moves closer to total lockdown, there is a large segment of the population that refuses to hide within the safety of their home: our health care professionals. Much like our first responders, their heroic, selfless, life-giving efforts are easy to ignore or take for granted when we're healthy. Yet, they're impossible to overlook when you or a loved one requires their care.

Bedside with Sister Gertrude (104).

Years ago, I connected with a health care worker who provided sage advice on how to endure anxieties – like what we currently face – and how to live more fully afterward.

In partnering with the SSM Health network, I had the pleasure of speaking with more than 10,000 of their staff at live events and many thousand more through the power of video. I've also had the honor of meeting the very leaders who built the system: a group of gritty, faithful, aging nuns who live in a small community.

In 2012, my dear friend Sister Kathy ushered me around their residence to meet many of the surviving sisters. Near the end of our visit, I met an amazing, bed-ridden woman named Sister Gertrude.

She was opinionated, firm and tough. She also exuded remarkable compassion, sweetness and a childlike playfulness. Although she'd been in bed for the last several years, she was still very much alive, still totally present and still doing pretty darn good considering she was 104 years old!

As a young girl, her life had been dramatically altered after witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of the Spanish Flu pandemic. She saw the worst of humanity in the panic, self-preservation, anger and looting. She also witnessed the very best of it in a group of committed, faithful servants who rather than turn their back on the sick and protect themselves, actually sought them out, chose to mend their wounds and offered tender love.

In a time of profound panic and fear, those nurses and nuns made an indelible impact on Gertrude. She committed her entire life to be just like them.

My friends, undoubtedly the world is a scary place right now. With markets dropping, economies sinking, unemployment rising, infections spreading, and anxiety soaring, it can feel difficult to find hope. Yet, just as Sister Gertrude did a century ago, look no further than the efforts of those on the frontline to fuel your heart with hope.

Our health care workers are on the very frontline against this virus. They are directly putting themselves in a position of risk. While many of us race to stores for pallets of toilet paper and hundred pound bags of rice, consider instead reaching out to see how you might be of service to our health care team. Can you get their groceries, keep an eye on their kids, make them a dinner? During times of great stress, the little things done for us can be lifesaving.

A century ago, a little girl's life was forever changed through the selfless love of the heroes who showed up to serve.

This pandemic offers a unique opportunity to change the lives of countless children watching how we respond. We can shut windows, lock doors and close hearts. Or we can open ourselves to be examples of committed, faithful servants. [Click to tweet.]

We can refuse to turn our back on one another and instead offer love to the world starving for it. Today, what better place to begin than by reaching out to those who are already modeling this.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

P.S. – If I can help your team navigate this time of great uncertainty by focusing on what they can control and letting go of the things they can't, please email me. While others in this space are actually raising their rates, we've created a model to serve everyone, regardless of budget. We've partnered with numerous organizations in creating video-based programing during this time of uncertainty and I'd love to serve you, too.

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