How NOT To Help Someone Who Is Hurting (comic strips included!)

How NOT To Help Someone Who Is Hurting (comic strips included!) June 26, 2013

fix01

We all have times like this, don’t we? And they are never easy. I happen to have a strong tendency (whether owing to my genes, my God-given personality and inclination, or who knows what) toward anxiety, much, MUCH more of it than is helpful and much more than I care to admit. Because it can be really hard to admit that you are struggling with something like anxiety.

Unfortunately, sometimes when you gather your courage and go ahead and tell someone how you’re feeling, it ends up going something like this:Fix1

And then, some of this:

Fix2And then, this:

Fix3

Now, along with the late (and lamented) David Rakoff, I do really believe that:

“people are really trying their best. Just like being happy and sad, you will find yourself on both sides of the equation many times over your lifetime, either saying or hearing the wrong thing. Let’s all give each other a pass, shall we?”

But in his very last piece on a recent ‘This American Life’ episode, Rakoff, his voice raspy from the lung tumors that were consuming his insides, he mentioned being at a dinner party at which people were discussing what sorts of self-improving things they’d like to do…as if giving up sugar or exercising more or doing more reading would really, truly, change their lives for the better. When it came to David’s turn to contribute, there was nothing to say. It was clear by then that all the ‘fixes’ in the world weren’t going to do a thing for him. He was dead within a matter of weeks.

We are in a cultural moment that is obsessed with FIXING. With magic diet and lifestyle changes that promise, when implemented, to make us a whole new, better person.

I understand that. I think it’s actually a deeply theological longing. But it’s not so simple as we might imagine. We would like to eliminate suffering, which is possible some of the time and completely impossible much of the time. Death forces us to face that head on.

It’s amazing how little Jesus preached at people who were hurting, reserving his harshest and most preachy and advice-giving words for those who were pretty sure they had this whole God thing entirely figured out. And it’s equally amazing how he chose simply to be with–and EAT WITH–people who were struggling with all kinds of problems, and, yes, to use that unpopular word, sins.

I just can’t see Jesus doing what the people in the above strips are doing. Instead, I could imagine a scenario like this:

Fix4

You’ll also want to check out:

another comic strip post on what anxiety feels like

my friend Ellen’s post on being ‘unfixable’ in a world obsessed with fixing

my friend Laura’s post on being anxious (and Christian)


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