I was thinking this morning how we all face difficulty and tragedy differently. Some go to anger and demand retribution, some go numb or dissociate and block it out and pretend nothing happened. Some go to God to try to understand, to find forgiveness. Some resort to substances, sexual activity or forms of extreme behavior. One thing we all have in common is we try to find some way to ease our pain. To remove the discomfort. To find peace from stress. Calmness from chaos. Understanding from confusion.
I don't believe there is anything more painful than to feel helpless and powerless over situations and circumstances. The same is true in feelings of powerlessness over thoughts and emotions. Things at such a deep levels a person can't consciously sort it out. Feelings so intense they at times overpower and overwhelm. Confusion and despair rattling around in a persons head that suck the life out of them. That level of pain can also drive a person to anger, hostility, numbness, dissociation and to their knees, crying, pleading and begging God for peace. For Shalom. Whether internal or external, our challenges to process life can be hard to say the least.
One of the hardest yet most powerful ways to help others who are in the midst of difficulty and lacking peace, is for them to hear compassionate stories of those who went through the storms of life much like theirs, and emerged out of the ashes and into peace. Hard for those who share because it might mean exposure, recalling something painful or taking the risk of rejection. For the one hearing, it does more than any amount of education, medication or sedation. It does more because it gives hope. You are in front of them because you got through that thing, that situation, that emotion. Hope is something that keeps people alive. People need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that what they are experiencing is not foreign or unique to just them. They need to know that they can get through this thing, feeling or situation, one way or another. After all, you did.
We see statistics on suicide every year. Every year some category increases. We put labels on why we think it happens. Much of that is effect and not cause. Depression. Illness. Stress. Anger.
A kid is bullied in school and takes his and even others lives. Is bullying the cause or the effect? His parents put him down and don't affirm him. His peers reinforce those harsh words. He then believes he is worthless and that it is others fault he is worthless. Cause and effect. What if another peer befriended him? What if his parents affirmed him for his individuality and unique personality? What if he was surrounded with hope and encouragement that he can accomplish great things? What if he had a peer who took the time to speak life to him? What if he believed he had value, worth and purpose? What effect might that have? Hope. One person taking a moment to share hope to another.
Our lives are not wasted. Our bad experiences are not just unfortunate events that we are to just chalk up as such. Our past difficulties can be the lifeline to someone else. We are not in the world for or by ourselves. We need each other to survive.
If today you have hope, share it. If today you got through another painful situation, celebrate it. If you overcame a challenging thought or feeling, hooray for your victory! Don't bury your painful past in the sand. Don't hide your scars. Don't run from the things you keep trying to forget. Look around you. There is at least one person who needs to hear YOUR story as only you can tell it. It is and was YOUR hope. Be open, available and ready to breathe life into someone who crosses your path today. You just might be the one to point them to the path of peace. The path you found.
"Do not withhold good from those who need it, when you have the ability to help."
Don't forget to pick up a copy of my book, "Confessions of a Feel Good Addict"
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