The loneliest moment often comes in a crowd when no one thinks to ask The Question. You know what I am talking about. You are facing the biggest opportunity or challenge of your life, and no one remembers to check-in and see how things are going. Did you get the job? How is your son?
The feeling of being forgotten turns to disappointment, which can generate depression for some people. If this occurs for the big, one-time events in life, how much more so for the long-term challenges we face. It is more comfortable to assume everything is alright, rather than bug that person for the latest update on something that may never be neatly resolved.
More than our own comfort, we also ignore The Question because somewhere along the way another person snapped at us for focusing too much on their weakness or problem. They were defensive toward us, and we learned to be quiet. Once you have that kind of experience, it will shut you down.
Despite this risk, here is a fact. For every person with SSA who says I don’t want to talk about it, I counsel 10 who are lonely because no one ever asks them about it. It is a pretty safe bet that if you know someone who wrestles with SSA, they would feel cared for if you ask The Question.
So what is The Question?
It is nothing more than a few simple words like, “Josh, how goes the struggle?” However, do not be surprised if you get a 20 minute update! This person may be isolated in their struggle and the opportunity to share triggers what we might call the spill effect as their pent up energy comes out.
Some of you are thinking: I don’t want to hear about other people’s issues. I don’t like people asking me about my business, and I don’t ask people about theirs. Practically, you may not be the safest person to ask about other people’s struggles. It is not that you are mean-spirited, you simply do not have the relational culture to nurture others. This is understandable.
Since many people fall into this category, it vastly lowers the probability that people with SSA will ever get asked The Question. It takes more than courage and compassion to dive into their struggle. It takes patient listening, compassionate consideration and thoughtful response. It requires a willingness to ask the next question – and another question after that. What is most needed is an unfolding conversation with your caring feedback, wise counsel and mutual prayer.
Here is an idea! I encourage every pastor, counselor and parent to call someone who struggles with SSA. Invite them to your office or to lunch to check in and catch up. You may never know the blessing this will be to your friend or loved one. At the right moment, just ask the question…
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Simply use the comment form below. You may elect to comment as “Anonymous.” Share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Buzz or by email. Reach Bill at (978) 212-9630.