Thursday, February 02, 2006

How Can I Help?

All of us know people who struggle, who are going through difficult times. Maybe its stress, loss and grief, depression, or just agnst. Whatever the circumstance it is sometimes very hard on friends and family to watch that person struggle. It often breaks our hearts and frustrates us that we cannot "fix" the problem. So what can we do? Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes I haven't a clue what to do, but I've listed below some general help tips that we can put into practice.

1) Listen. Before we ever speak we must listen. Know the full extent, seriousness, and the nature of the problem. We are so quick to speak and often what others need is simply someone to listen to them and let them talk. Talking is sometimes a great cure itself for problems, especially stress related.

2) Do Your Homework. The worst thing we can do is speak on something we haven't the slightest clue about. If you've not contemplated and overviewed some of the details of OCD, don't try to give advice on it. The worst thing to do is to simply tell someone to stop doing something that is simply beyond their immediate control.

3) Don't Over Emphasize. There is a tendency among some to overemphasize the biological in problems. Depression, OCD, and anger are often narrowed down to be problems of the brain or chemical imbalances. This is wrong because it is not always the case and it removes responsibility from the person. The other extreme, of course, is obvious: to overemphasize sin. There are almost always heart issues involved in struggles, but beware merely labeling struggles as the results of sin. Job's friends did this and God corrected them, far be it from us to do the same.

4) Be Humble. You haven't got it all figured out! We are all sinners, we are all trying to persevere in the same world, and we all need the grace of God. Don't throw around advice frivolously, don't mock, don't belittle. This is not the Christian attitude and it most definately does not help. Listen intently, take the problem seriously (because it is serious to the one going through it) and treat the problem with an awareness that you may be just as prone to it.

5) Pray. The often overlooked element of counseling! Prayer is a means of grace by which God gives aid to His children in need. We can give counsel and help direct the steps of another in need but if we have not saught God's aid it will all be in vain. It is only by God's grace that one overcomes anything and by not seeking it we are demonstrating the height of arrogance.

There some simple but oh so important steps to take. I pray I would adhere to them more myself, and that you will find them useful in your own life.


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