Abandon All Hope …
by Duane Eberly, Quakerdale Family Services
The inscription found in Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here” sums up the Simeon family’s attitude toward life. Years of services which were supposed to bring change proved futile. With each setback the flames of hope grew dimmer. The family wondered if failure was their fate in life.
Then one day things began to change. A new in-home worker came and gave the usual spiel – things the family had heard many times. But then something different happened. This worker did not give answers; he simply listened to the family’s story. There were no rebukes or pointing out their shortcoming. He just listened.
The listening sparked of glimmer of hope.
Maybe things could change.
Change was ignited when the worker asked the family a simple question: “Is your way of doing things working?” It was obvious that the answer was, “No.” But now with their new found hope, the family summoned the courage to face this truth.
The worker told them that he had a few suggestions he had seen work with other families and asked if he could share it with them. The suggestions seemed so strange. Things like listening to each other, working together, talking calmly and looking for the positives; they all sounded like a foreign language.
The Simeon family tried the suggestions. Initially they encountered many setbacks as old habits are hard to break. Yet the worker refused to let the family dwell on the setbacks. Instead he challenged the family to look for their successes, no matter how small, and then celebrate the positive change. Like magic, with each success more hope appeared.
Hope was now a mountain, not an ant hill.
Yes, there were more setbacks, but now looking back also meant viewing their successes. The Simeon family reached a point where they believed they were strong enough to make it on their own without any services.
Things didn't go as planned, however, and there was a significant relapse. But this time seeking services brought little shame or embarrassment. The family viewed the setback as a hurdle that could be overcome with a little assistance.
The Simeon children have all graduated from high school now and are planning to go to college. Mom has a job she enjoys. The family is optimistic about their future and thankful for an in-home worker who invigorated them with hope.