April 29, 2020
My friend couldn’t escape the career advice coming her way. Everywhere she turned someone had the answer and it all seemed so simple — to them anyway.
The more the suggestions flowed, the less appreciative she seemed. Eventually, the circle of friends and family attempting to help her determine the next move pulled back, confused and somewhat aggravated by her inaction.
Entering the scene around the time my friend had had her fill of “you shoulds,” I knew my only role was to listen.
She had somehow shifted her focus from figuring out the next step to obsessing about why “no one” could understand her situation.
She was frustrated, overwhelmed and sad. Job after job, position after position, opportunity after opportunity ended in disappointment for her.
Each of the roles initially had potential. She always grasped them with tremendous hope and a sparkle of excitement, but somewhere along the way the spark ceased and the fire fizzled.
“They don’t understand the whole story. I know they mean well, but their advice won’t work for me,” she would say about those trying to help.
As my friend explained, she pulled back the curtain to her life ever so slightly.
What seemed simple and obvious to the rest of the world truly was complex and complicated for my friend. She was right in that they/we couldn’t truly understand her situation nor the reasoning behind the pattern of her choices.
As she talked, she seemed to see for herself, maybe for the first time, the areas that might need some attention in her life.
It took several more years, but my friend found her way.
She worked through some buried issues that had held her back for years. She found peace with God and herself.
And she discovered a place to use her skills and share her gifts and talents with fulfillment.
What my friend doesn’t realize is how much that one conversation and glimpse into her heart and soul taught me.
From that experience, I realized how many times we are tempted to “fix” another person when they seem to be struggling through a situation.
We take what we know, do a quick assessment and spit out the answer. No big deal, “here’s what you need to do.”
But in most cases we really don’t have all the information nor do we understand the full picture of dynamics involved.
It takes commitment to not hurry things along when walking through a difficult time with someone else.
More people than we realize silently spar with something from the past and/or carry the weight of an intense pain, such as grief or deep disappointment.
Sharing from the depths of our heart with a trusted friend who will listen without “fixing” us lightens the load a bit and nurtures the opportunity to heal.