Leading by Joining

A talk-show host in Phoenix once interviewed Mother Teresa for his program. He was very impressed & asked, "How can I help you in some way?”

She said to him, "Tomorrow morning, get up at 4:00 am & go out onto the streets of Phoenix. Find someone who believes that he's alone, and convince him he's not."

After hearing that story a few years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking & trying to learn about how to help people who are hurting & feel alone.

I used to think the best way to help people was to analyze their problems & advise them on how to ‘fix’ themselves. Over time, I have realized that, for people who are suffering, their most urgent need isn’t information. Telling them the reasons why they are hurting & how to avoid it in the future, doesn’t provide comfort. It usually makes them feel judged & even more alone. We all need to hear the truth eventually, but not in our deepest moments of darkness.

In those moments, people need to feel JOINED. They need someone to enter into the hurt & be present. They long for someone to be emotionally vulnerable and empathize. To look them directly in the eyes & say, “I see you. I know you are hurting. I am WITH you.”

This is hard to do. To really do it. It’s exhausting, uncomfortable, & frustrating. Your mind wants to judge them. Your ego wants to pass along sage advice from your own experiences.

But their first need is be LOVED… Not because they behaved properly, met your expectations, or earned your kindness. They need to be seen the way God sees them. Wrapped in an embrace that won’t let them go. Loved unconditionally.

If you feel alone today, please hear these words: “I see you. I know you are hurting. I am with you.”