“You never know what goes on behind closed doors.”
“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
“You’d never know by looking at him.”
“But she always seemed so put-together and happy.”
How many times have we heard–or spoken–phrases like these about people? People who we assume are doing ok, until we find out…they’re not. People who surprise us with sudden outbursts or breakdowns. People who decide they’re tired of the facade and become very open about what they’ve been facing. People who suddenly disappear from the normal activities where we see them.
In the last several months my husband and I both have been confronted anew with the depth and breadth of hurting, damaged relationships and people. It has brought home the fact that in so many ways we are fragile entities desperately in need of a Healer and Savior.
All of us, to a certain degree, have things we “hide” from others. These are the things which (rightly) shouldn’t be shared in particular groups or settings, things we’re working through and aren’t ready yet to share, or any number of other reasons.
What I’ve been contemplating are those (including myself sometimes!) who pretend everything is fine and then suddenly it comes out that it is so NOT fine.
Speaking of fine, do you know what it stands for (at least according to a certain movie)? F.I.N.E: Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional! Think about that the next time someone asks how you are and you’re tempted to answer with the word. But I digress.
I’m not going to delve into all the reasons people hide their hurts–it’s too deep and wide a subject. What I’d like to do is share a few thoughts on how you and I can possibly alleviate some of the hiding.
- When asking someone how they are, let’s specifically ask, “How are you doing–really?” and then be willing to take the time and emotional attention to listen to the answer.
- Speaking of listening, when others are sharing with us let’s truly focus attention on them. We can do things like make direct eye contact, refrain from looking at our phones, when in a crowd we can refrain from looking around for other people to talk to, and let the person know through our body language that we’re not anxious to move on to the next person, place, or thing.
- Be the “safe” friend. So many are unwilling to share their hearts and hurts because in the past they have done so and been burned when the one they trusted turned out to be untrustworthy. Let’s be the ones who are known for keeping information entrusted to us to ourselves.
- We can be people who pay attention. I know it sounds elementary, but we get so busy “doing” that we miss signs others show that they are in need of attention and help. When we pay attention, we are better able to discern hurting hearts.
- When someone mentions a prayer need, let’s take the time right then and there to stop and pray with them. There is a difference between saying, “I’ll pray for you” and “Let me pray for you now.”
Do you have other thoughts about how we can be helpful to those who feel they must hide what is truly going on in their heads and hearts?
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