I’m having a difficult time with the word “just”. Or to be more precise, all the words that often follow the word “just”.
When I lament that I’m weary of waiting for Mr. Right to show up, someone will say,
“Just be patient!”
“Just put yourself out there!”
“Just get out and do what you love!”
I’ve “just” done all those things and he still hasn’t magically appeared. Well, maybe I haven’t been patient enough, but I have put myself out there, wherever out there is. I’m doing what I love.
I know when people say these things they have good intentions. I know they mean well. I know because I’m guilty of saying these exact same things. When someone close to me has opened up about battling depression, I too, have offered a few “just do this” suggestions.
“Just take Vitamin D!”
“Just get outside in the sunshine!”
But once I begin to better understand what depression is like and what someone is going through, I see that my responses are woefully inadequate. Things are often much more complicated than a simple “just do this” answer. And sometimes we can do all the things we think will make a difference and still not end up with the outcome we’d like.
It can be hard to hear someone’s pain and not offer suggestions. I want to help my friends. The fixer in me wants to make things right. And I know others want to do this, too. But more often than not, many things are out of our power. Sometimes, as much as we’d like, there’s little we can do to change things.
But what we can do is be present.
So the next time I find myself beginning to spout a “just do this” reply, I hope to remember to just stop.
And instead offer a hand or hug.
And just listen.