Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Compassionate Comforting vs. Arm-chair Advice

When I was in high-school youth group there were many times I saw someone who looked like they needed comforting. I would then approach them and ask "Do you want to talk". They would decline and I would walk away. Then a few minutes later I would pass by and see that someone else was comforting them.

I think this experience has made me a bit gun-shy when it comes to approaching someone to give them the comfort they deserve. Sometimes it makes me wonder if people see me as one who can comfort. This in turn feeds my insecurities and makes me question my ability to be truly compassionate towards others. I do not think that I am any less capable of offering comfort than others— I just wish that I could get the opportunity to do so.

How often do you hesitate being compassionate towards others? Do you find that it is appropriate to offer your comfort— or do you shy away because it may appear to be too forward.

Whenever I am given an opportunity to comfort someone, I usually ask myself if I have the necessary background to be effective when I comfort them. In this I feel a bit at a loss because I do not know the history behind their need. I have experienced first hand the concept of Sometimes a stranger is better company than a friend— where it does not matter how well you know the person if the words you convey to them are truly sincere. Knowing this gives me the confidence to know that I can comfort someone, even if it is general and not specific.

Many times people put up a post that expresses their feelings and shows that they are looking for direction or advice. I think that many of us feel lost and don't know where to turn so we cast out our thoughts to the world in hopes that someone understands us.

Why do I sometimes feel compelled to offer words of advice?

I sometimes find that the words I offer sound a lot like "pat advice" which may seem empty and lacking sincerity. This puts into question my intentions when I make a comment on other people's blogs. Just to get the record straight:

I am not the kind of person who is saying these things in order to play Arm-chair quarterback and tell you how to run the play. I typically draw from experience and hope that my words impart of my experiences and assist you in seeing a different perspective.

I will leave you with two poems I wrote that summarize the giving and receiving end of things:

You find someone who's not yet there
and ask yourself now should I care.

Should I show the path to set them straight
or wait a while until it's too late.

So come to me and all the more
you'll find the door and be aware.


You find a friend when life seems down
it seems like chance they've come around.

A friend you find who seems to know
to pick you up and help you grow.

Now be a friend I'll find so well
so we can tell that love has been found.



Liz Mays said...

I think that's often why people blog. It's easier to share feelings with strangers than those close to you. You don't feel as judged.

Erin said...

Two days ago at Wal-Mart I saw a woman who looked like she had been crying. I almost asked her if she was okay or if she needed a hug when she asked me when my baby was due. We chit chatted for a minute, and then I realized that it was only one eye that was red and had tears (maybe she had an infection or something). I was kind of relieved that I hadn't asked her if something was wrong!

Beverly@Beverly's Back Porch said...

I have found that sometimes the best comfort we can give someone is just to be a good listener, no advise necessary.

Anonymous said...

Nice poetry. Don't ever lose your compassion. Sometimes people are more weary in sharing, and you may have just run into those people. Use gut instinct and offer from your heart, you'll be able to tell if they want you to listen or talk, and sometimes just being together in silence is better than being alone. Empathy is a beautiful honest trait...treasure your ability, there will be people who will appreciate what you have to offer.

in time out said...

it is hard sometimes to know how. what. when. i think you just keep being who you are. you have comfort in your words, and in you way of openly expressing what others feel and don't know how to put into words. don't ever stop writing. thanks for sharing, and for caring. i agree that is why people blog...!!!

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