Have you noticed this about struggles? Others' problems are "easy" to remedy, but my problems are complex and complicated. Typically, we evaluate others' obvious, serious struggles. First, we are amazed "that person" has struggles. Second, we are amazed the struggle exists. Third, we are so certain the solution is "simple" that we are amazed he (or she) has not realized this "simple solution."

Have you ever thought or said this? "He (or she) should not have that difficultly! It is so unnecessary! The solution is obvious! If he (or she) simply had done ..., this never would have happened. Even now, if he (or she) would simply do ..., the situation would be resolved. I don't know why he (or she) can't see that!"

Much of my life is spent (a) encouraging individuals who endure struggles or (b) trying to help individuals increase perspectives as they seek to overcome struggles. I learned several enormous lessons that I frequently must "relearn."

(1) Every situation has more than "one side." Two or more people can look at the same situation, be honest with the facts and the circumstances, and come to totally different conclusions. ALWAYS more than the "facts" are evolved. Each person's perception of those facts is powerful and essential. When a person thinks it, he (or she) believes it. If he (or she) believes it, to him (or her) it is true.

(2) Pain is pain. No matter how distorted perceptions may be, if he (or she) hurts, the pain is real. Because the pain is real, the solution never is found in one of these declarations: "Just get over it and grow up!" "Stop feeling sorry for yourself!" "You made your bed; lie in it!" "It is not that big a deal!" "Save self-pity for real problems!" Minimizing suffering never produces solution.

(3) If you want to encourage or help, do not give advice. Listen. Help a person see "the unnoticed." Guide him (or her) to increased awareness. Share, if you are willing to identify with the person's traumatic experience, he (or she) has reason to bond with you. Yet, NEVER FORGET, it is his (or her) choice, not yours. Do not make choices for him or her.

(4) Refuse to play the blame game. Refuse to assign blame. Knowing "whose fault" it is or "what percent of the fault lies where" solves nothing. People seriously interested in resolving crisis lose interest in blame. Blame commonly seeks self-justification. Solutions are concerned about recovery.

(5) In any real, continuing solution, the greatest single factor is the God factor.

Ephesians 3:20,21 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Be part of the solution. Care, but do not gossip. Never be a "know it all." We don't.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 March 2003

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