I remember when a friend told me her teenage daughter was pregnant. I remember when a friend shared with me that her son was gay. I remember when a friend came crying to my door sharing with me that her husband was having an affair and they were getting a divorce.
Why is it so much easier to be supportive, sympathize, or counsel when life is happening to someone else? When the tables are turned and one of these things is happening to me, it is so much harder. It is even hard to live out the advice I have given to others. When I chatted with them it sounded so good, so smart, so doable. Now that it is me, I am not so sure I can handle it.
Now turn the tables, and I am the one listening and supporting someone going through a trial in their life. Most of what I share is my experience, nothing more. I am not a counselor, nor an attorney, so I cannot advise. But I can tell you what I experienced and how I handled it, or even how I wish I had handled it. I remember early on when my road to divorce began, I read many books, articles, blogs etc. Truthfully, I was hoping to read my story, exactly what I was going through and how it worked out. Yep, you guessed it, no such luck. However, it has enabled me to share my story with others. When you listen to others’ stories and experiences on the same or similar life trial, you will find encouragement; you will find out you are not alone; you will, perhaps, find the courage to face your trial more head-on. Knowing that others survived, and even thrived, what you are now experiencing definitely gives you hope.
And I think, just like many, many aspects in life, if we can learn from the mistakes of others, it is so much less painful. So it was helpful for others to tell me what they did, and why they would not do it, and, therefore do not recommend it to you.
When I am sharing with others what I went through, and how I handled it, and how it turned out, I always share the good and bad. I also share with them why I think it went poorly, or why I would do it differently knowing what I know now.
As you read my blogs, keep that in mind. What I did is not always correct, or perhaps just not correct in your case.
I listen to yet another heartbroken friend; she has been told by her husband that he is unhappy in their marriage, that he doesn’t want to be married to her, that he wants a divorce. I find myself wanting to warn her, tell her what to be leery of, what to watch out for, what not to believe, and so on. But it is not my place — that is not what she needs right now. So I listen, I check in on her and her kids. I pray for her family. And I wait. I wait for her to reach out for help, because until then, she will not be ready to hear, to accept the help.