Thursday, June 25, 2009

Think on These Things Thursday

Giving Others the "Benefit of the Doubt"

Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

I have been saddened the last couple of weeks by the way people are offended by what others say. Especially when someone is trying to relate to or comfort another. I think that many times people are just trying to relate in some way, even if it is small and say things that to the one in a difficult situation seems to "trivilize" THEIR situation.

Helping the one going through a difficult time:
I have learned that it is difficult to say the right thing to someone going through a difficult time because we have NO idea how that person is truly feeling. Everyone reacts to situations differently and works through them in different ways. One person may need a shoulder to cry on as soon as difficulty comes, another may take days or weeks to come to that point. I wonder how many times I have said something that may have been taken in the wrong way. Furthermore, I have to resist the temptation to say the first thing that comes to mind, usually some trite little saying, in my temptation to fill the void in conversation. I think that often people just say ANYTHING to fill the void in conversation, because most of us are uncomfortable with silence and feel like we need to help the other by saying something really wise. We often end up saying the wrong thing and further upsetting the other. I think the best thing we can do is let others know we are thinking and praying for them. Let them know we love them and are concerned for them and to PLEASE let us know if we can be of any help--meals, listening, cleaning their house, watching their kids, etc. Then BE QUIET!!! You can also offer to take them out for a meal or coffee, but be ready to listen and be quiet!

Please Listen ~ author unknown
This poem was given to me when I worked at a camp for children with cancer. It is a good reminder to BE QUIET! :o)
When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen. Don't talk or do - just hear me.Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper, and I can do for myself; I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy. But when you accept as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice. Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.So please listen, and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn - and I will listen to you.

If you are the one going through a difficult time:
Realize that people are genuinely trying to be helpful, even if they may not truly BE helping you. I learned this when my father passed away. The circumstances were really difficult. Many people said things that were not comforting in their attempt to BE comforting. I can’t imagine anyone would have deliberately caused us more pain. Even if they were, we can not judge another's intentions because we don’t know their heart. I guess I just want people to give others the benefit of the doubt. Try to look at them as helpers accidentally saying the wrong thing. Be thankful that they care enough to try. You can let them know nicely that you just need some quiet time or would like them to listen for awhile. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, will allow you and others to be much happier. If you allow yourself to be offended, you will probably just end up hurting yourself the most. Being upset at another is quite a burden to carry around!
P.S. I am still learning. The verses above are helpful and remind me to be more forgiving if only I would remember them all the time!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is a touchy thing, isn't it? I've certainly been on both ends and am gradually learning that it is so much better for me to be quiet (wonder why that's so hard?? ;~)).