Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who Did We Miss Today?

"Rebecca Wells, a compliance auditor and USC graduate, died in her cubicle Friday, but no one noticed her body for an entire day. The LA County employee was eventually noticed by a security guard on Saturday afternoon. Her body was found slumped over her desk, according to reports."

That news story ran just the other day. A fifty-one year old woman passed away at work and no one saw her struggle, take her last breath or lay there alone. And of course we don't know the circumstances and perhaps this was just a quirky situation that no one could have helped.

But unfortunately, there are people dying all around us every day.  No, not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Their marriage is tanking, kids are hurting, job is gone, they feel like no one cares, and their personhood has taken all sorts of hits that make them feel worthless. In addition, many of them have no understanding that God loves them, cares about them and wants to give them life, real life.

I remember one of my grad school teachers and respected author Larry Crabb telling us to remember that, People are hurting more deeply than we know.  And yes, we're often surprised by the ones right around us - coworkers, church attenders, leaders and even family members who all of a sudden expose some deep wound that we never knew about.

And we can never know people's thoughts and emotions that they aren't willing to share but we can at least open the door to being a caring, loving friend, spouse or parent who might be the help they need.  How?

First, listen beneath the words.  You don't have to be a therapist to do this.  Just listen for generic statements that may send a deeper message.  A potential exchange:   "How are you today?"  "Oh, fine."  "Just fine?"

Now don't be a pain on this one.  If they say, "Yes, just fine," then let it go. But sometimes people will let you in to talk more and will welcome your concern.  Spouses and parents would be wise to practice this and do it well and often.

Second, build relationships that welcome openness.  My boss regularly asks me, "How's your heart?" And I know he means it and really wants to know.  I also know I can trust him.  That kind of relationship takes time but he doesn't have to work really hard to hear about when I'm struggling.  This should come naturally for spouses and parents but often we don't go here with each other. Start early and respond lovingly no matter what you hear and you will be surprised at the results.

Third, model openness.  When my boss and I share I also feel comfortable telling him things because I've seen his heart, too. He models authenticity.  We must do the same with others especially in our homes.  But instead home can become a place where we keep stockpiling all sorts of things we never talk about: disappointments, failures, being sad, and the like. Instead make your home a place where it's safe to mess up, make a mistake and be hurting inside.

Who might be dying in your world or home today?  Get next to them, speak to them words of life and offer them a listening ear that just might be the resuscitation they needed to stay alive and healthy.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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