When it comes to the trauma in another person’s life, here’s the reality…You don’t have to get it.
You don’t have to understand. You don’t have to agree. You don’t even have to say anything.
You do have to withhold your judgement.
For me, the trauma I have most recently experienced is the loss of my first child. For my mom, it’s the loss of one of her oldest and most dearest friends. For one friend of mine, it’s the daily heartache of her child battling addiction. The list goes on. Everyone. Every. One. Has something. The trauma someone is walking is not the point. Your understanding of how they are dealing with their pain doesn’t matter. Your agreement with how they receive or don’t receive help is irrelevant.
What does matter is that you do not judge the way they are walking the very individual and personal road they are on. Because your lack of understanding or your difference of opinion isn’t what wounds them… They understand that you probably don’t get it – and honestly that is not only okay with them but they would very likely rather you don’t pretend you do. What hurts, deeply, especially when a person is already nursing open and barely healing wounds, is when criticism that they are not caring for those wounds how you feel they should be is expressed.
How you feel they should be.
That’s so dangerous my friends… I am not ever qualified or equipped to tell someone how to climb a mountain I am not on. Not even if I have climbed what appears to be a very similar mountain.
What I am qualified and equipped to do is offer love and support. To not take offense if that love and support isn’t helpful or wanted at the time…or ever. To pray. And pray. And pray. Not pray for them to handle it how I feel they should – but for them to receive, from the only Source that can truly provide it, all they need to climb that mountain. Even if what they receive doesn’t come through me. To tailor my response to that person to what they need, not what I want to give.
For those of you reading and thinking that I’m sounding quite harsh, here’s where you might be able to breath a little easier (or maybe not, but that’s okay with me): I didn’t always understand this. I’ve been the one who passed judgement or felt frustrated or criticized. And then through times in my life of walking through my own traumas and challenges, I learned. I learned that the most valuable thing you can offer someone who is hurting is the permission and grace to be where they are, one day at a time. I learned that the people who made me feel the most supported were the ones who realized they didn’t have anything to give me that would actually make a difference.
You see, it’s not your fight.
You intend so, so much good. “Your heart is in the right place” as the saying goes.
And then they don’t receive. They don’t respond. They stay hurting for longer than you thought.
Somewhere in there things get messy. Frustration happens, criticism mounts. And your good intentions start to cause more pain. It’s a reality we need to be aware of.
Let’s all help each other out and stop that train before it gets moving on the tracks. Let’s remember that you can fight for them, but that doesn’t mean their battle is your fight. And please, let’s not end up fighting each other. It’s hard enough already.
And let’s remember: you don’t have to get it.