August 25, 2013

Competent Comforting 1 - Ourselves

At some point in our lives, we're all going to need comforting, and will come into contact with people that need comforting in a crisis or grief situation. But if we're not ready with a bit of knowledge in how to properly comfort someone in these times, we can wind up being like Job's friends:
1Then Job replied:
2“I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing? - Job 16:1-3

 Sometimes it's more about knowing what not to say more than knowing the right thing. In the next few posts, I'll be talking about some things we can all do to make us effective and competent at comforting our friends and loved ones in times of crisis and grief.

First off, before any crisis hits, we need to know our own feelings and reactions to grief and intense emotions. Do we have any unresolved grief in our lives? Will we be able to handle our own emotional reactions to the intense emotion we will encounter? Can we stay focused on our friends pain and not our own?

If any of these questions present a problem, we need to do the work necessary to deal with ourselves first. This might mean some professional counseling if the pain is preventing us from moving forward, or maybe just some long talks with a caring friend. What ever we have to do to come to a point of peace and acceptance of our own pain, it's part of the Great Commandments': "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Since we probably have some better perspective if we have some time and distance from our own painful events, it's easier to trust Christ's promise: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

As this series goes on, please keep in mind that nothing I write here is in any way training or advice on how to conduct counseling. These are just some things I think can help us to love one another as He loved us, and to avoid being a 'miserable comforter.'

Part 2
Part 3

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