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A Mother’s Heart

A Mother’s Heart


Last week was my youngest daughter Chelsea’s 22nd birthday. At the same time, sadly unfolding on the national news was the desperate search for the missing 17-year-old, Chelsea King that had disappeared in Southern California while jogging. Our two Chelsea’s both had such promising futures ahead of them. My vivacious daughter will be graduating soon from a university with a BS in Business and a minor in Hospitality/Tourism. We are excited for her as she plans to continue her education and work toward a Masters. While a straight-A high school senior, Chelsea King played the French horn in the San Diego Youth Symphony and was also impressively involved with numerous volunteering and mentoring activities. Like our daughter, their Chelsea was looking forward to spreading her wings and had started applying at a number of prestigious universities. As parents, how can we fathom anything possibly stopping our precious babies from reaching for their dreams? Tragically, Chelsea King’s love for cross-country running proved to be her demise.

I kept thinking about what I heard Chelsea King’s father say in an interview as to how they didn’t want their daughter to run alone; but teenagers feel like they are invincible. Often, when I remind my daughter about staying safe, Chelsea will state emphatically that she doesn’t want to live her life in fear. No matter how hard we’ve tried to shelter our children from harm, the truth is that this generation has desensitized itself to crime as it has become such a part of everyday life.

Even when law enforcement officers arrested a sexually violent predator on suspicion of the rape and murder of Chelsea King, I still held on to a glimmer of hope praying that a miracle would prevail. Searchers had not yet found the King’s beautiful child. Part of me, however, couldn’t erase the disturbing image of the smirking mug shot of the brutal monster. My heart sank when the tragic news finally broke, showing an all-too-common picture—yellow tape cordoning off a large perimeter of underbrush with tons of law enforcement officials huddled close to the crime scene. Looking at my husband somberly, I sniffled, “It could just as easily have been our daughter, Chelsea.”

The immeasurable grief her family is certainly feeling seems insurmountable. At the moment, I felt jaded. I needed to know where others find goodness in this world, especially those who have such tough occupations and see the senseless loss of life on a daily basis. I want to thank those individuals who helped me in my longing for answers and shared with me some very valuable insights about mankind.

“Where do we find goodness in this world?”

What I give to my clients through the compassion, understanding and suggestions for coping is goodness in the midst of their grieving. I am often the only one or one of few people in their lives who really get what they are going through. Often it’s not so much what I say in the counseling sessions, but that I’m there and available to listen and that I really care. I know I cannot take away their pain and sadness of losing a pregnancy, baby or older child, but I also know that tragedy is part of life for many people. For me, being able to help people during their most difficult times is nothing but goodness.

Csilla MSW, LCSW
Bereavement Counselor

The love I receive from my God, my wife, and my family. Watching someone get an alcohol or drug addiction in remission and restoring their life. People who serve as foster or forever parents. When people care about others more than themselves.

Superior/District Court
22 years

I find goodness through seeing lives impacted with the hope of Jesus Christ. Working in ministry and with Police and Fire personnel it can get very easy to only see the negative. With Police officers and Fire fighters we call this, “compassion fatigue.” We need to constantly remind ourselves what it was that first called us into the line of work that were in. For most it was wanting to help people and that is what we need to hold onto! You see a lot of bad stuff but you have to always remember the good and when it comes never take it for granted. If just one life is impacted it’s all worth it!

Pastor 11 years
Police/Fire Chaplain 4 ½ years

I typically find myself turning to nature to remind myself of the goodness of this world. Many people are good and continue to do good works, but these folks are fairly rare. I find that nature has maintained a lasting innocence against our world’s corruption, and is our last bastion of goodness.

911 Senior Dispatcher.
18 years and counting

I find good in moments. I find it in the expression that says, “You are listening to me, loving me, giving me dignity, and letting me be my own man.” I find it in a sunrise, in an inexpensive can of soup or a bag of apples that will keep my stomach and bank account full. I find good selfishly – in a shared meal, a stimulating conversation, in the opportunity to choose for myself, or a new thought that leads to another path. Good does exist, it’s just hard to recognize sometimes.

Residential Trainer
Adult males/Group Home

I find goodness in the hearts and deeds of those who want to bring happiness and encourage life change to those in the community that need/want it. The Bible calls those “the least of these” the poor, the homeless, the down and out. A meal is a basic daily human need and to provide/facilitate that to the forgotten ones in our community without judgment is where goodness can be found.

Faith Community Coordinator
6 years

I believe goodness is created not found. We all have the power to create it, but unfortunately most of us have forgotten how too. No matter how bad you feel try to make people smile (especially a child) and see what happens. When you see someone doing a carwash for charity, get your car washed. We need to stop worrying solely on our own problems every now and then and just try to be compassionate to your fellow human race and if humanity is not compassionate back to us so be it. Goodness is looking in the mirror and truly liking the person looking back. I believe goodness is given and not found.

Correctional Officer/State Prison
20 plus years

Every time I look at my children, I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is more good in this world than bad. Every time we air a story about a person in need, and our viewers come forward in droves asking how they can help I know the good outweighs the bad. I don’t need to look very hard to find goodness in the world, I just need to keep my eyes, mind and heart… open.

Anchor Portland 10 years,
Television news 17 years

I tend to find goodness in knowing that somewhere, someday, someone will inevitably do the right thing. I think that to know one’s place in society helps to keep one’s perspective on the issues that concern us as individuals, and as a community. Anytime that you can think outside your own self is always a good thing.

Security Patrol Supervisor/Owner
15 Years

When people who share a common struggle you often find the goodness that exists within them as they find ways to cope and support each other through the challenges. In the laughter of children even when they are facing adversity. In the eyes of a dying person who has nothing but thanks to share for all the things that have been blessed with in life. In the forgiveness that one human being can give to another. Who ever thought that you would experience so much “goodness” when working with death and grief.

Medical Social Worker Hospice
8 years with hospice

During my career, I dealt daily with criminals and felt a personal sense of pride apprehending those willing to violate the public trust. At the same time, I noted that there were more people willing to the right thing by reporting the crime and testifying in court at a later date. This mirrored my belief that the public at large are good people and by far outnumber the “criminal element.” The general public by far in my opinion would be willing to do the right thing, at any given time or situation.

Retired Oregon State Police Trooper
30 years of service

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  • kali says:

    Great writing. I have no idea how some people get the “mean gene.” Glad there only a handful but a hanful is to many!!

  • Bridget says:

    What a wonderful message of hope despite a tragic story, JoAnne. The things that happen in this world are unfathomable at times, but there is goodness all around too… we sometimes have to look a little harder to find it.

    Thanks for this!

  • This is so good. I loved how you took a horrific situation and sought solice instead of questioning why it happened. I especially loved that phrase “compassion fatigue.” I need to write that down so that I remember with my husband, children and ministry why I wanted it all in the 1st place. Thank you for your kind comments on my blog & I’m excited to read more here. 🙂

  • Glynn says:

    JoAnne, I don’t know where to start. You’ve written here from deep within a mother’s heart. What the Kings have experienced is every parent’s worst nightmare. What first comes to mind is the trite and cliched — “there is goodness in everything, even awful things.” I don’t know if that’s true. But what I do see is that the awfulness of what happened to Chelsea King is reflected in the goodness of what you’ve written here. I don’t know how that can happen, except that there is something about the act of creation — even an act of creation as simple as writing words — that speaks to God’s goodness and our redemption. In the meantime, we bleed.

  • Lynn Mosher says:

    Oh, JoAnne, this was wonderful. Goodness still exists but is sometimes not very evident. That’s where we, as God’s hands and feet, enter the picture and do what we can to show His goodness to others. Blessings to you, dear one!

  • David B says:

    Very nice

  • Only God can heal when these tragedies occur. Only He can restore. It’s hard to see the good sometimes but it’s all around us if we look into the hearts of others. I see it in your writing and how you seek answers not only for yourself but for others. We can change the world if we help somebody else. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing this meaningful post, JoAnne! There are so many tragedies in life, but there is also much goodness. You’ve shared some great comments about goodness, and it helps to focus on those things. God can and does bring so much goodness into the world, giving us hope in our despair.

  • JoAnne says:

    Kali, It doesn’t appear that there’s just a “handful” anymore.

    Bridget, I am looking harder to find it :)!

    Melissa, I appreciated your kinds words about my post. Yes, “compassion fatigue” struck a chord with me as well.

  • JoAnne says:

    Gynn, I just get this feeling that Chelsea King would want us to focus on the goodness in this world as way of honoring her memory.

    Lynn, maybe there is not enough drowning out the bad with showing the goodness in this world.

    David, thank you

  • JoAnne says:

    My friend Michelle, I can’t imagine what this world would be like without God to heal.

    Connie, Oh, thank you. Like many of us, sometimes, I feel suffocated by way too many tragedies in the world and must find ways to focus on the goodness you write in your poems.

  • Hi Joanne~ Wonderful post about Chelsea. This is a great “venue” for helping to track “missing persons” that I never thought of before. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog~ I’m learning!

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.