If you happened to have read my recent post “Your Words are Cheap” (located just a few posts below this very one) you may be thinking that I’m about to contradict myself. While I recognize that sentiment, I greatly assure you that I am not in the process of reverting what I have previously stated.
If you haven’t caught on by now (Maybe you should just go take a look at the other post? Maybe grab some context?) I recently stated that someone’s words to a person struggling with depression are cheap, useless, and a waste of breath. What good is it to toss empty words (though maybe well intended) to someone who has no hope? Words cannot simply bring someone out of depression. This disease is a life sucking parasite that will not stop regardless of how bright the sun may be shining. It is crippling, it is death, and no amount of human vocabulary can do anything to muster up the strength in one’s own soul to overcome their darkness.
But what if I were to say that there is some validity in your words? That not all of your words were completely unfounded? Actually, what if I were to say that you, the “grievance counselor”, actually stood a chance in potentially rescuing your loved one from the grips of despair? I am about to speak on behalf of those suffering and I pray I do it well.
It is already been established that words of spurring or motivation serve no purpose or are of no help in the realm of the sorrowful. This isn’t a battlefield that can be trifled with. There are mines beneath every ounce of dirt and if you are not careful with what you say you may be the cause that ultimately spurs them on in their loneliness. I’ve seen it a million times. A well intentioned family member/friend approaches those suffering and tries to offer some advice through their limited experience with this disease and it only serves to push the depressed away. Let me ask you this…Instead of talking so much, have we ever stopped to ask questions?
There’s a novel idea.
Like, questions with the intention of better understanding the other person’s situation. Most times people may ask questions but they do it the wrong way. They ask question with a presupposed answer in mind about how easy it is to “solve all of their problems”. Please, do us a favor and stop talking if you’re not going to take the time to better understand our pain.
The key to possibly opening up a deeply depressed man/woman/teen/child’s heart is to ask questions. Ask them what originally brought this pain on, why they are feeling the way they are, and what they think they should do about it. They may not have an immediate answer (in which case do not push them! Wait on them!) but as time passes hopefully their eyes will be opened. You see, in these times it becomes less about the counselor and more about focusing on the root problem of the counselee. Sure, your words of wisdom may be profound to you but to us they mean nothing more than an empty jug that supposedly promised water.
I recognize that trying to understand a person deposition is extremely difficult, time consuming, and laborious. Believe me, I’ve felt like a burden to the majority of the people around me for 3 years. It takes an incredible amount of patience to help someone work through their feelings. But if you do nothing but toss the problem aside with a quick word then you only serve to spur the problem on. It may be laborious but what’s worth it? Your time or someone else’s life?
What many so often forget is that there are lives and souls at stake in this game that we play. One wrong move, one bad roll of the dice and it’s game over. I would also strongly recommend that it is not ultimately up to you to save them. It is only by the hand of God that we are brought out of our lowly state so don’t bear the burden of their well being on your fragile back. Do what you can to be there for them, listen well, speak rarely, and pray…pray…pray…pray. They may not say it but your presence in this time assures them that there is hope and that not everyone is a selfish narcissist.
Be present…It could change a life.