Home > a new spirituality, relationships > When someone stumbles; how not to kill the wounded

When someone stumbles; how not to kill the wounded

I have become aware that most of us have no clue what to do when someone has fallen or struggles.   We have a variety of interesting tactics and responses.

Most have genuine concern, but don’t know how to respond.   The majority resort to chatting about the situation with close friends out of concern, concluding with such statements as; “Wow, isn’t that a shame?….”

Whether we’re aware of it or not, our awkwardness drives us away from the person, causing further isolation, instead of having the “know-how” to approach them.   To us, we just don’t know what to do.  To them?   It feels like judgement and lack of concern.  What does that do to them?   Drives them further away.   They will chose to find acceptance in their new-found circle.

How do I know this?  I was there.  I was struggling for awhile in my faith.  Instead of a phone call, a coffee or even an email from fellow colleagues, I found myself isolated and on my own to figure it all out.  I found acceptance in the dance community who welcomed me with open arms.  I found the silence from those in the faith disheartening.

I’m not judging those who didn’t call, take me for a coffee or email, because I know why they didn’t.  Again, it’s because we have no clue what to do; other than chat about how sad it is with others.  It’s almost like we’ve written them off already.

Can I, who have been on the other side, give some insight into those presently stumbling so we can uphold and support them in a more effective manner?  It could make all the difference in them overcoming….. or not.

  • If you feel the need to share your concern with someone, make sure that person really cares about the one struggling and will join with you to pray and take action.   Check your motives.  Are you sharing to ask that person to partner with you to make a difference, or are you really gossiping?
  • take them out for coffee so you can hear them out.   Others will always have their “interpretation” of what’s happened, but that person is the only one with the real story.  They will appreciate you wanting to just LISTEN.  (repeat: LISTEN)
  • avoid giving them advice or saying something really stupid like; “God works all things together for good…”  Can I just say that when you’re living in a shattered world, that’s the last thing  you want to hear.  It may be right, but be wise and…. shut up. (I don’t know how to say it any other way)
  • what CAN you say??  Say you’re there for them.  Tell them you are committed to praying for them.   Speak into them that you still believe in them.  If you really feel something you’ve been through could help, ask if they’re willing to hear your personal story.
  • don’t just leave it with one conversation to hear them out.  They’ll interpret that as you just wanting the inside scoop and not really care about them as a person.   Continue to call, email and be an encouragement.
  • never stop praying for them.  Even if it seems bleak.
  • if you couldn’t see yourself struggling with the same thing, do yourself a favor and don’t mention their situation to anyone, or share your “opinion”.   Pray.  That’s IT.  Guard your heart from judgment.

I know what I needed to hear during my dark time.  I would have never admitted it then, but looking back, my heart would have exploded to just hear someone look me in the eyes and say; “You are so much MORE than all this, Connie”.   That’s it.  That would have done it.  Someone still believing in me and telling me they saw more in me than my current situation would have ignited a fire in me to rise to their challenge.

Instead, I was driven to continue to live the way I knew people saw me…..  I guess I lived up to their expectations….

I was recently out for coffee with my mentor and pastor, Lee Primeau. He was sharing with me the difference between the way pigeons treat their wounded and the way geese treat their wounded.   I was moved to tears by the explanation.

When a pigeon is injured, other pigeons will peck at them.  They gang up on the weak one….

But geese don’t let any other geese fall behind.  When they fly, they are sure to support the weaker one, and take turns being in the front of the V formation where the wind is the strongest.  They have a support system built into them that we can learn a lot from.

“Would the love continue if my walk becomes a crawl….”  (from the song, “What If I Stumble” by DC Talk)  This line is profound.  That is the fear of one who is drowning.  Will you stand and judge me?  Will you lose respect for me?  Will you just watch me drown?

Or will you call me forth?…..  Will you help me walk again?

“Evaluating how well you do church is not nearly as important as evaluating how much you love your people.” – Matthew Barnett

  1. August 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I love the quote: “Evaluating how well you do church is not nearly as important as evaluating how much you love your people.” – Matthew Barnett

    Thanks for sharing Connie!

  2. August 9, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    This is something that has gripped my heart for the last while…how we treat those who stumble and fall. There is no judgment in God’s grace…why should there be judgment in ours? Judgment has to do with fear…I guess one of the reasons we judge those who stumble or fall is because we are afraid and then push them away. I need to be a conduit of God’s perfect love if I’m going to reach past fear. As Heidi Baker says, “Church, don’t shoot your wounded!”

    Great thoughts Connie. Thanks again!

  1. August 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

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