When introducing myself in discussion groups, I will often say that I’ve got no issues. It’s kind of a joke and it earns a good chuckle. My life’s pretty great. I figure my problems are pretty inconsequential as compared to the problems others. The bottom line is that I’ve really got nothing to bitch about.
This week’s been fairly hard on my friends and extended family. Parenting negotiations between my wife and her ex-husband introduced significant emotional challenges early in the week; missed expectations rattled a few of my friend’s relationships and sent them into a tailspin of anxiety following a party last weekend; another learned of an MS diagnosis; another friend had not one car break down on her but two – and just on the eve of starting a new job - while another struggles another week unemployed.
In the thick of problems and desires, it may be hard for us to really listen to our partners and lovers are telling us. Events like these … they’re like an explosion. Our senses are overwhelmed. We seek cover. There’s a ringing in our ears.
· Sometimes it’s the drone of a conversation that we’ve been having for months that hasn’t found a resolution;
· Sometimes it’s a long hurt that’s turned defensive;
· Sometimes it’s heartbreak or the ache of lost love;
· Sometimes it’s missed expectations and frustration over not getting what we want;
· Sometimes it’s our own anxiety and fear about who we are, the kind of people we want to be, and the commitments we’re willing to make.
In the thick of our problems and desires, that’s the time for our greatest compassion. To pause, breathe, listen, and give. Give. Give in the form of your time, your energy, your patience, your forgiveness, your mentoring, your effort, your assets, your attention, your kindness, your love and caring, your check-in, your stable hand.
It’s tough. We’re hurt, too, but if you can, in a moment of crisis: pause, breathe, listen, and give.
Giving won’t solve everybody’s problem. You can’t and won’t heal all of the damage caused by the bombs that detonated in their lives. It won’t fix anything. Rather, at that moment, giving will erect a bridge to cross from fear, anxiety, and isolation, to a paved path of community, safety, and acceptance.