Saturday, June 30, 2012

Do you really want to help?

"We live in society where no one lets you know anything – we all suffer in silence. And the person saying 'let me know' knows full well that you won’t – but if some kind of problem crops up in your life, they will pull that out and say 'I told you to tell me and you never did.'" - Matt comment on April 17th 2012
I have a friend who was until quite recently very pregnant with twins.  She found herself encountering all kinds of weird invasions of her personal space from people who had once been pregnant and thus felt entitled to inflict themselves on her.  She said that during her time of obvious disability, she discovered this piece of advice for those who really want to minister/help/be a blessing to those in distress/disability:

Don't assume that you know what the person/people in questions want/need just because you were in a similar situation.  Keep your "I know just how you feel"s and unasked-for advice to yourself.  If you actually want to help, ask the person how you can help.  I'm experimenting with, "What one thing can I do for you right now that would be the most helpful?"  Ask more than once.  (Also, be okay with the answer of, "Nothing right now, thanks.")

I suppose the extension of this would be to make sure you ask the people in your life what you can do for them even when they seem okay.  I suspect, as Matt says, there's a lot of suffering in silence going on, possibly related to the fact that we spend much of our time trying to pretend to the rest of the church that we are okay and fine and dandy especially when we know we are not. 

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