Wisdom reminds me to try and look through the other’s eyes. If one can catch a glimpse, even if it is brief, one finds one’s self with an opportunity see the other in ways rarely imagined. My experience is that the insight automatically creates empathy, compassion, and the opportunity to respond differently. As I work with new colleagues, I am struck by the tension that they have in their lives. It is clear that they feel pressure from multiple directions. Equally, the messages on how to proceed are mixed, confusing, and often contradictory. For several the uncertainty is overwhelming.
I can hear the thoughts playing out in their minds. Paraphrasing, “the hangman’s noose was tight at my throat; devil waters rushed over me.” (Psalm 18.4)
When one is looking from the outside, it is natural to explain the pressures in a way that makes them small, less intense, and something one can ignore. On the inside, once has little choice but to deal with them. They are real. They are debilitating. They are powerful forces that shape and push everyone near the situation.
Whatever one’s perspective is about the pressures there is a more important question to wrestle with. How should one respond to another under pressure? Life reminds me that there are three mantras that we should always remember.
One should always try to not make things worse. In action, response, and conversation, sensitivity and compassion are primary.
Take time to understand what others need. Life is never lived in isolation. Helping others is a good idea. Inevitably the outcome will come back into your life.
Be open to the help of others. Listen for opportunities to connect the efforts of others with your own. Candor, expressions of need, and outright requests are all signs of strength.
As I look at the threats around us, I am struck that each is a reminder of the value that community offers us. I need the friendship and wisdom offered by others. I need their insights. In their actions I realize that Hope is stronger than any threat.