I don’t believe for one second that we, the 1% of the world, who have access to the blessings of the world, are so callous that we will not help others in need. I do know, however, that, at least for myself, I do not take action because I do not see the problem. Even worse, I sometimes choose to ignore the problem.
Our society is so focused on pretending that our lives are amazing. Social media is filled with images of people showing the success of their own lives (whether it’s true or not). We want others to know that we are happy. Even if we’re asked in person, “How are you doing?”, we give evasive answers like “I’m doing great!”, or “It’s good! I’m REALLY busy.” We have convinced ourselves that it is not good if another person knows that we are struggling. We think to ourselves, “I do not want to burden others with my insignificant issues” or “They might take advantage of me if they know my weakness” or “They will gossip about my problems with others.”
The sad reality is that people are exploited when their weaknesses are exposed. The sad reality is that people visibly show that they are uncomfortable when given an honest answer that isn’t positive. And because we act that way we have created an avenue for the birth of 2 realities:
- Fairweather Friends
- Lonely Liars
I was really struck by this definition of a ‘Fairweather friend’ on UrbanDictionary.com:
Fairweather friends usually are the people you deal with until proven innocent.– Mr. Terrence L. Trezvant July 28, 2004
The people who will be around during the good times and will be scarce in the bad. I am ashamed to say that I have been guilty of this. I have been rethinking my use of the word ‘friend’ when it comes to the people I come into contact. I have very few ‘friends’. I have many ‘acquaintances’.
Upon this reflection I had to look at myself and think about how many people to whom I was a true ‘friend’. Do I ask about their problems? Do I really care about making their lives better? Would they think of me when they are in need?
ACTION: This week, instead of asking ‘How are you?’, ask, ‘What are you struggling with?’
You might find that your friends will deny that they’re struggling with anything. That may be so. But it is most likely that they are afraid to share their problems with you. They’ve turned into ‘Lonely Liars’.
We have all fallen into this category as a by-product of being and having ‘Fairweather friends’. Humans NEED relationship. No one can argue this point. To make myself more clear, Humans need IN-PERSON relationships with other Humans. Not through text or email. Yet because we do not want others to feel uncomfortable or that we do not trust others with our problems, we lie (out of omission) about the true state of our lives.
Everything is NOT going well.
I am NOT fine.
We are very intelligent when it comes to social cues. You have instinctual feeling when you cannot trust someone with your ‘true’ life. But if we’re all trying to be on our guard nobody actually develops a real relationship and we never actually share our burdens with others. It’s a vicious cycle in which we all experience a slow, lonely death.
ACTION: Visit your friend, one-on-one. Be real with them and DARE to be vulnerable in your conversations.
Choose this person carefully. You probably have a person that comes to mind. Even still, being open with anyone requires strength and understanding between both people. It takes courage to be vulnerable. You’ll need to clearly state that you want your conversation to remain private as we often expect our friends to ‘read our minds’ about where ‘to draw the line’.
Nobody is a mind reader.
Express that you want a closer relationship. As the two of you confide in one another about your problems you’ll FEEL the weight of your loneliness being lifted.
Here we go!
If you choose to take action and SHARE PAIN with others, here are some final points to consider:
Listen twice as much as you speak. I have hurt others by interrupting them as they pour out their heart to me. I have dismissed their problems because I do not struggle with their problem. It doesn’t matter what YOU think of their struggle – what matters is that they are experiencing pain.
Don’t give advice unless asked. In my haste to ‘solve’ another’s problem, I’ve pushed my advice because I wanted them to see that it was ‘so easy’ to fix their problem. People want to be heard. They’re not stupid. They know HOW to solve their problems. But in their hurt and loneliness, they been crippled from doing so. Be a place of healing for them. Ask for permission to help them. Allow them to accept your help rather than forcing it down their throats.
Relationships are built on trust. And it takes a LONG time to build trust. In your lifetime you will have your trust betrayed. Keep in mind that the ‘betrayers’ have been so hurt in their own lives that in their pain they only know how to hurt others. If you do fall victim to this hurt, embrace your pain and ask God to give you the Grace and the Heavenly Love to forgive that person.
We’re all broken people who need constant love and affection. Although we have been numbed by our society to have deep, meaningful friendships, it’s not too late and have FULL friendships. Share your joys, achievements and PAIN with others.