Last weekend my parents told me about a friend of theirs who was going through some difficult times, both physically and emotionally. They care for this person a lot. He has been a good friend and a kind, supportive model and leader that they have looked up to for years.
Recently in a conversation with my father, my dad expressed regret that this friend was having physical issues that brought him pain. The friend’s heartbreaking response was “This pain is nothing compared to the pain that some people cause me.” This friend serves in a capacity that calls for him to care for others every day, to identify and meet their needs. Now he finds himself in a painful scenario of having to deal with attitudes, harsh words, negative emotions and intentional interpersonal harm inflicted by some around him on others for whom he also cares deeply. He is also occasionally the subject of their attacks himself.
What is this friend to do as the jabs of those for whom he cares pierce the hearts of others and himself?
I have met this friend on several occasions in my visits with parents and family, but we’ve never really talked. He might not even recognize me walking down the street and that’s OK because I might not recognize him either. We are vague acquaintances. However, after hearing my parents tell the story of this man’s plight, and after sensing the pain in their faces and voice, I knew I had to do something to encourage him. We live 90 miles from each other, so a phone call is the best I can do. Tonight I called, although I had to leave a voice mail with a request that he call me back. When we finally talk sometime in the next day or two, I will simply let him know what a good, admired and respected friend he is to my parents, how much they appreciate him, and how much I am grateful for his friendship with them.
He needs an “attaboy.”
Leap year lesson #159 is Someone you know needs encouragement, and you’re just the person to do it. It isn’t safe to assume that others will do so.