Several years ago, I fell at a restaurant. As quickly as I could, I got up and assured all around me that I was fine. We continued the meal and my friends and I said our goodbyes as we went to our separate vehicles. I crawled into the Explorer, being careful to keep my left shoulder as still as possible. It hurt; I hurt. And, I was more than a little embarrassed.
I drove away from the restaurant, headed back to work. I made a right turn out of the parking lot and a few minutes later realized that I did not recognize the buildings on the street. After a quick U-turn, I again started toward the office. But, I didn’t recognize the buildings going this way either; clearly, the first U-turn wasn’t the right thing to do. Another U-turn and I settled down, positive that I was going in the right direction. It was after the third U-turn that I began to appreciate that I was in trouble. I decided that I needed to continue going one direction. Eventually, I found my way back to my office.
Later, we understood just how badly I had injured my shoulder and surrounding tissue and muscles. It took more than 2 years of time, surgery and physical therapy to get “back to normal.”
But, the experience on the road that day taught me an important lesson: people in pain make poor decisions. I don’t remember my shoulder hurting that bad as I drove that day when in reality the pain had short circuited my thinking. I did not recognize a familiar area. I vacillated from trusting myself to having no trust in anything I did. I was embarrassed and did not ask for help that I needed. I made bad decisions.
People in pain may look just like they have always looked to us. They may speak and act as if nothing has happened. They may not ask for help; they may not even know that they need help. They may say over and over again “I’m fine.”
What can we do for them?
- Be patient.
- Be there.
- Be understanding.
- Be forgiving.
- And, as much as you are able, be Jesus.
John 13:34-35 says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”