Torn Between Heart and Mind.
Have you ever felt torn between doing something you feel called to do and something you feel you “should” do?
That happened to me today.
About a month ago I was asked to sub for another pet therapy team at two nursing homes. I agreed, even though the visit was on a Saturday and I don’t typically do weekend visits.
A little over a week before the scheduled visit, my husband’s uncle passed away and they scheduled the funeral for… you guessed it… the day I was supposed to go to the nursing homes.
I felt obliged to go to the nursing homes because I had given my word, and, I knew if I didn’t go, no one would. Many of the residents don’t get visitors and they really look forward to seeing the dogs.
At the same time I felt guilty about not going to the funeral.
My husband said he was fine with me not going and encouraged me to visit the nursing homes instead. I didn’t know his uncle well but I still felt like I would be letting my mother-in-law down. What would the rest of the family think? It rode heavy on my mind for over a week.
I felt in my heart I was supposed to go to the nursing homes.
Why did I feel so strongly about going to see people I don’t know over supporting family at a funeral? I’m not sure. It wasn’t all about feeling obligated. It just felt like that’s where I was supposed to be.
So that’s where I went this morning.
My husband went to the funeral with his mother and sisters, and I went with Hope to visit the nursing homes.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Hope, my therapy dog, and I stopped visiting nursing homes last year because she was showing signs of stress while we were there. Since then we’ve focused on visiting places she is comfortable and enjoys. I wasn’t even sure if Hope would enjoy the nursing home visit, or if she’d be ready to leave as soon as we arrived.
We got to the first nursing home and Hope marched right in like she knew exactly where she was and why she was there. When we went to see the first resident of the day, who happened to be non-verbal and confined to a bed, she walked right up to his bedside and pushed her head under his hand. He warmed up immediately and by the time we left his room he was trying to communicate with us.
The rest of the visit there, and at the second nursing home, were just as heartwarming. Hope was in her element and enjoyed visiting with everyone. And they truly enjoyed visiting with her. One resident, who spent a lot of time with Hope, even kept asking us to come back and visit again. There was so much love it was almost overwhelming. In fact, it was probably one of the top pet therapy visits we’ve done in two years of doing this work.
Clearly we were where we were supposed to be.
When my husband returned from the funeral, he shared that it was a good day for him. While he was sad about saying goodbye to his uncle, he got to visit his father, and his grandfather, whose graves are in the same cemetery. He was able to work out some issues around their deaths that he has been dealing with; something he was better able to do alone and without me there. As a result, he experienced some solid healing.
Our conversation about our respective days cemented in my heart, and mind, that we were both exactly where we were supposed to be.
It was a great reminder of how important it is to follow what you’re being called to do. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if it breaks social conventions. Even if it doesn’t feel like what you “should” be doing.
I recently worked with a spiritual counselor who helped me realize how important it is to honor yourself and your calling. I think our culture often makes that difficult. Instead we do what we’ve been raised to do. Or what we believe we should do. And, we forget to do what’s in our heart.
I’m thankful I chose to follow my heart today.
I’m thankful my husband honored that choice. And I’m thankful for the wonderful reminder that when we do that, we always end up exactly where we’re supposed to be.