31 July 2012

Giving a Damn

Guess what?
I don't need you to fix my problems - I just need to know you care.
When I'm struggling, I don't expect you to have the answers - all I need is to know that you give a damn.

These are some of the revelatory thoughts that have been swimming around my brain lately.

The nice thing I've realised about this, is that the same is probably true for you.
If you're struggling, you don't need me to have the answers either - you just need to know that I give a damn.

This is very freeing for me.
Because sometimes when I notice friends struggling, or hear of someone going through pain, I feel powerless,  frozen into immobility by the hugeness of their grief or loss.

What should I say? What if I say the wrong thing?
I've never lost a child/parent/partner, been divorced or had a miscarriage so how can I relate?

Worrying over doing or saying the wrong thing in the face of someone's infinite pain can be extremely paralyzing.
I want to help, but how?

Now I know.
I don't need the answers (there probably aren't any this side of Heaven)...
I don't need the right words (nothing anyone says could take the pain away)...
I don't even need to have gone through the same thing (I've had my own pain so I can draw on that)...

I just need to let them know that I care.
I DO give a damn.

Now, how can I show it?
I can only go by what works for me.
It's the little things, simply being remembered and thought of can be such a powerful thing.

We know life goes on for those around us.
We are stuck, washed into the swamps of grief, not moving forward, while our friends are swept along in the tide of busyness and endless doing as we once were, before pain sidelined us.
So when a friend, busy as they are, takes time to remember us... it means so much.

Things that loving friends have done for me at times when I've been struggling include...
  • a card in the post
  • goodies in my mailbox
  • an invitation to coffee
  • dropping by to just say hi
  • dropping by to do my housework
  • a phone call to say "how ya doin?"
  • a meal dropped off
  • a heartfelt encouraging email
  • a txt that just says "thinking of you"
Practical things, each one like a big warm hug that tells me "YOU MATTER".

Taking inspiration from this, I can let these be some of the ways I can show others that I give a damn.
That although life does sweep inexorably on, it does not go on without them for me.

I've written this as a challenge to myself. Anyone else who wants to take up the challenge, please feel free.

Remember what Jesus said:
"By this shall people know you are my followers: that you have LOVE for each other."
Not great music, not awesome preachers, not exciting outreach programmes or a happening youth group. These mean next-to-nothing. The only thing that matters is


Showing people that they matter. They are not forgotten, alone or abandoned in their time of difficulty. 
And we DO give a damn.


P.S. For those new to my blog, my own personal journey through pain has been a long battle with depression and anxiety, as a result of burn-out doing youth work. This year I have turned a corner, found an amazing counselor and I'm starting to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Of course this is not without its moments. The past two days have been a blast from the past which is why I've been thinking along these lines. I am also hugely inspired by SophieSlim's Love Bombs as one way of showing those who are struggling that they are not forgotten.

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