Guest Author: Cec Murphey
"Maria's" nephew had taken his own life. Deb Nayrocker emailed to tell me she had called the woman. "I'm touched that you called," Maria told her.
"I was the only one who called her," Deb wrote. "I didn’t understand why no one had talked to the grieving woman about her nephew's death."
Because Deb had read an illustration in Committed But Flawed, a book I wrote a decade ago, she wrote to me. In that book, I mentioned I served on the church council in Atlanta for our monthly business meeting. Instead of giving his report, one pastor lost control. For several minutes, through his tears, he told us about the painful division in his church and the personal attacks he'd received.
Although other members seemed embarrassed, after he stopped, we went on with business. Everyone acted as if nothing unusual had taken place.
For a couple of days afterward, I hesitated to do anything, assuming he had been inundated with compassionate calls. I finally phoned him to express my concern. For several minutes he unburdened himself. The situation was so bad it was affecting his health and his marriage.
One of the last things he said was, "You're the only one who has called."
The only one. Deb's experience. My experience. Both of us had reached out, assuming others had also expressed compassion. To hear there had been no others shocked us.
"It takes so little effort to encourage most people," I told my wife. "But it does take effort."
Isn't it sad that we don't reach out more often to those who hurt? We offer excellent excuses for our inaction: We don't know what to say; we assume others are reaching out; we don't feel qualified.
Years ago, I decided that I could claim such excuses (and perhaps a few additional ones), but that shouldn't stop me. I stopped worrying whether I might say the correct words or be number 400 to make contact.
When people hurt, I need to reach out. No matter how hesitantly or badly I speak, my message will get across: I care.
Yes, it takes so little effort, but it does take effort.
The above article was printed in Cec's March 1, 2013 newsletter. If you are interested in receiving his newsletter, drop by his website and sign up.
Several of you have asked about my wife. At the pain clinic, they gave Shirley a steroid injection and she's better. They want to do it every three months. NEW NEWS 03/25/13 SHIRLEY ARRIVED HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL.
Two of my books release this month: Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (written with Gary Roe) and I Believe in Healing: Real Stories from the Bible, History and Today (written with Twila Belk).