Comfort IN, dump OUT.

20 Nov

Over the past year, people have told me countless times they don’t know what to say to me, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine, because half the time I don’t know what I want to hear – but at least you are acknowledging something significant is going on in my life instead of ignoring it, which comes pretty close to flat out saying the wrong thing entirely.

And speaking of saying the wrong thing?  Well, that does happen, but for the most part, Chip and I remind ourselves people’s hearts are usually in the right place and they meant well.  Being from the South, I can throw the blanket phrase “Well, bless her heart” at most any situation to excuse someone for poorly chosen words or inappropriate behavior.  The one exception was when someone once told me I must be cursed to have had all of these bad things happen to me.  Cursed?  I must be cursed??  Well, that’s really comforting, you dipshit.  I should probably let that one go, but I still struggle with finding the charity in my heart to excuse that statement.

I stumbled upon this article on a friend’s Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, and I keep finding myself going back and reading it.  I finally decided to post it, because I think it’s just so spot on: “How not to say the wrong thing” – http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407

I acknowledge it is hard to know what to say or do, or how to truly be helpful to someone, but after being in that first ring for a year now, I tell you: It can be just as uncomfortable being on the receiving end of “words” as it is to be on the delivering end of “words.”  But what is far more awkward and exhausting is having to comfort someone or worry about their feelings.  The day our family counselor confirmed we were only responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of four people and four people only–ourselves, each other and our kids–was liberating.  Weight.  Lifted.

If I may, here is my list of “dos” I hope is helpful:

  • Acknowledge the present circumstances.
  • Deliver short and sweet words that convey love and compassion.  I am thinking of you.  I am praying for you.  My heart is with you.
  • Offer words of encouragement and specific prayers.  I am praying for your strength.  I am praying for restorative sleep.  Safe travels.  I am praying for quality filled days.  I am praying for healing.  I believe in miracles.
  • Be specific in ways you can help or be of service.  I am good at raking leaves and doing yard work.  I am going to Target and Trader Joe’s today so text me if you need anything from either of those places.  I am really good at doing research.  I am a night owl, so I can run late night emergency errands for you.  I have much flexibility with my job, so I can be available during the day if you need anything.  I nannied in college and am currently single, so add me to your list of readily available babysitters.       
  • Ask yourself if your words or actions are being helpful and serving others’ needs instead of your own.
  • Listen without passing judgment.

And please, please remember, don’t make stupid ass comments like, “You must be cursed.”

– Sheila

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7 Responses to “Comfort IN, dump OUT.”

  1. Elizabeth Hadley November 20, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

    Love you! Love this! Always, always thinking of and praying for y’all!! I wish I was closer to do more! I can’t even believe someone would say that to you!! I can think of a lot of responses, none of which are appropriate for me to post, but I’m saying them in my head for you! 😉

  2. Deb selmi November 20, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

    I agree. Have been I that situation before. I don’t think people actually know what or how to convey their good intentions. When you’ve been in that situation is when you “get it “. With that said, I’m loving all the great pics and blogs. It made smile to see Chip at the walk:) take care ..

  3. Sarah Versaggi November 20, 2013 at 9:48 PM #

    Loving y’all and thinking of you each day! I am not a night owl but a mean shopper at Trader Joe’s so let me know what you need!! xxoo

  4. Nancy peavy November 20, 2013 at 10:45 PM #

    I am really good at babysitting and taking you to lunch any time. Love nancy

  5. ted kramer November 21, 2013 at 8:08 AM #

    Thanks for the “listening lesson”…so true. I pray for healing for Chip everyday. ted

  6. Diana Pelosi November 21, 2013 at 9:03 AM #

    That was a great article Sheila – thank you for enlightening us. It’s such a simple theory & I hope everyone reads it. In the meantime I continue to pray for your family. I look forward to your posts because your humor just makes my day! Maybe that’s shallow but you are a terrific writer! Sending love & strength to you all during these upcoming holidays & praying that good news finds you. From Westbrook, ME…♥

  7. Karen Burns Ball November 23, 2013 at 9:58 PM #

    Said perfectly. Your post and the article.
    Love y’all!

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