In a recent counselling session I was reminded again, having been asked—“What would you do?—that sometimes there is no clear answer; in fact, many times there is no answer at all to people’s problems. It is normal to feel inadequate, as if we are not doing our jobs, especially if we are carers of people.
We want to have the answer. We want to allay people’s fears. We want to help people know the right path; to make the right decision. We want to make things easier.
But as soon as we venture into that territory—to make easy what is usually never easy—we begin to delude ourselves, and we lead those relying on us astray.
Then again, people are apt, in their desperation, to go elsewhere in striving for an answer to the things that vex them. So it might be more our job to lead people on their own search of enquiry; to validate the awkwardness of situations; to give credence to the idea of not simplifying the already complex.
We honour God when we understand that so many problems of life are too complex for simplistic bolt-on answers.
Making Entrance upon a Mystery
We honour the truth when we resist jumping to the pounding impulse of our anxiety. When we rest instead, within the mystery—an enigma of changing, evolving shape—we honour the truth. How much do we not know?
When we approach mysteries of human accord in the realm of God we walk with gentle reverence upon the ground that we do not know. It isn’t anything to be afraid of; we consider it, like all mysteries, with appropriate awe.
When someone comes to see us, desiring our help, it would otherwise be the height of disrespect—and not least to disrespect God—to come to an abrupt conclusion, or to a view that seems right to us, but might be even slightly inappropriate. Why take what might result to be a silly risk with others’ lives?
Making an entrance upon a mystery—and to stay in the confounding space with a person, on their ground—is, otherwise, a thorough respect to them and their situation. Besides, it keeps the space open for their thought processes; for their problem-solving skills to emerge.
So many problems have no clear answer or no answer at all. Helping people is not about solving their problems for them, but entering that ground with them, to experience what it feels like; to share their agony. Then space may open for them to endure it with a little more peace; they may even find within themselves the step they need to take.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.