As we move through life we feel it is important to serve other. To take care of others and solve their problems. I am here to tell you that you just can’t take care of others. You can only support others.
I know that it is my habit to “mother” everyone and take responsibility for them and every crisis they face. I want to be the one that solves everyone’s problems. I always think I have the perfect solution for whatever it is they are going through. I can be superwoman and fix everything for everyone just ask me. Well that’s what I thought a few years back.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to take care of your own problems and stay out of other’s issues. Yes, they seek me out to unload everything that has currently got them down and I immediately begin to give my response on how to solve the issue. The best thing I can do is shut my mouth and just listen.
Truly helping is by just allowing the other person to talk without interruption. Allow them to hear what they are saying and let it absorb into their ears as well as yours. Hear their concerns and anxiousness in silence. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Many people need to just release and vent the unhappiness they are experiencing. It may be they are frustrated with their spouse. It may be that someone gossiped unfairly about them. Or quiet possibly they may be worried about a medical procedure they need to have done.
If you can just focus on what they are saying and listen to their words most likely they will figure out their own solution. The more you offer advice the more you will tend to not hear them. Your mind will jump ahead of what they are saying and build its own scenario instead of what they are actually saying. I have caught myself doing this many times.
I now try to just quiet myself and hear what someone is telling me. For example I had someone tell me the other day how frustrated they were with their spouse. They felt their better half didn’t give them enough attention and shut themselves off instead of discussing what was happening in their marriage.
I listened as the person complained and said the laundry list of things that was currently wrong. As I heard them speak, I knew myself being in a bad first marriage their problems were basic communication. It wasn’t that one of them were cheating or had driven them close to bankruptcy with out of control spending. It was that neither one heard the other. They were both exhausted from working and handling the children. Children do change a marriage with schedules, school and activities but they are such a blessing from God.
Being a seasoned wife, I shared a bit of marriage guidance, notice I said guidance and not solution or advice. I told this person that days get hurried and work gets hectic but there are so many gifts God has blessed their marriage with.
They have a beautiful new home, they have money in the bank, healthy children as well as their health. I asked the person, “Do you think it would help if you just thought about the reasons you two got married?”. Since you love each other, why not go back to the things you have forgotten about each other that need to be renewed. Think about the things that led you to say “I do” because those are the things forgotten in day-to-day living.
I know these two were inseparable in college before they were married. They had to do everything together. As their marriage has progressed, they have grown apart handling work and the household. I told them to think about how they enjoyed cuddling on the couch watching their favorite TV show. Just because children arrived didn’t mean they couldn’t DVR their show and cuddle and watch it after the kids were in bed.
They also loved going to the movies and eating a late dinner. “Maybe you should plan regular scheduled date nights on the calendar to do this again. If a child gets ill and you can’t go, reschedule it that night before it gets forgotten.”
Another thing I heard as they spoke is that the hand holding and hugging has ceased. Again, not lecturing or solving their issue I reminded them that is only takes seconds to give a hug and it’s the quickest way to feel loved. Seriously, if we all hugged more it would be a happier world.
I could have addressed this whole conversation telling them what they needed to do to regain control of their marriage but quiet frankly I haven’t walked in their shoes so I have no business trying to offer a solution. The best thing I can do I listen and offer positive comments to stimulate their thought process for their own solution.
People just want someone else to care and tell them what they are going through is normal. They want to know others struggle with marriage and they are not isolated failures. Reassuring comfort is what they need not more opinions.
I have my own problems that I need to deal with and I don’t need to add anymore to my plate. It is great to be supportive and offer to pray for them but you have to stop there. Everyone needs to either handle their own problems or if they are too big for them then they need to hand them over to God to handle. When you comfort instead of control you will be doing a great service to the one needing you to listen. You also will appear to be a better person showing kindness instead of judgement.
I know we all have good intentions to help others and sometime we think we know what’s best for others. God is the only one that has the authority to solve the problems of others. He has everything planned out for them and their lives. He is bringing them through this experience for a reason and we aren’t privy to what that reason is.
Remember what I have had to remind myself constantly and I said earlier. You have two ears and one mouth. Double your hearing and decrease your talk for everyone’s benefit. Listen and be at peace that God will handle what needs to be handled and that you are a supportive friend.
If you are suffering now with a problem, know I am praying for your healing and happiness. God will always provide your solution if you turn to Him and trust Him fully. He will never let you down.
Love and gratitude, LoLo
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.