Some days I feel like a crazy person. I feel like the things that I am thinking are odd and unique to me alone. Surely, no one has felt the way, or I feel of thought the way I am thinking?
Have you ever felt that way? Felt alone on a sea of odd thoughts and strange feelings?
When that happens, I have found that two phrases can help me more than any others.
1. I have thought or felt that way too. I find a sense of peace in knowing that other people don’t have everything figured out. I remember hearing an old preacher mention his struggle with lust over his whole ministry. He told of how he thought like an average guy while trying to live a Godly life. At that moment, I no longer felt alone. Someone knew me. I didn’t feel crazy or like a failure. I felt like a normal human struggling with the sin we find in this world.
2. I have never thought of felt that, but … You can end this sentence in a variety of positive ways. I have never felt that way, but I can see that you are struggling. I have never thought that way, but I can see how you could reach that conclusion. I do not know what you are going through, but I am here if you need to talk it through.
There is a line in the movie version of “Shadowlands,” a story about C.S. Lewis, in which a character says, “We read to know we are not alone.” I often think of that quote as people are talking to me. We share our thoughts and feelings to know we are not alone.
There is this temptation in every one of us to try to fix people’s perceived problems. We want to teach them so that they think like I do. We want to make a difference in the lives of people we know and love and quite often that translates into lectures about how to think and feel. What if we make the biggest difference when we try to identify with their struggles instead of trying to correct them immediately?
Then again, maybe I am the only person who thinks this way.