Though there is so much to be said for the blessings of living a sheltered life. I have experienced and heard from many people that it can have its disadvantages as well.
For instance, if we are too sheltered then we might struggle with how to handle adversity or hardship when it strikes. Or we may struggle with how to relate to those who have endured what seems like too much.
On the flip side, someone who comes from a broken home and dark past may have learned different tools of survival. They might be more willing to head straight into a battle if one should arrive. They may also be the ones who are in the best position to relate to those who need help the most – those who are in the most desperate of places.
Just Who Do You Think You Are?
Personally, I will tell you that while I was growing up and going through some of the trials I did, there were periods when I wouldn’t give you the time of day if I knew you couldn’t relate, because you’d never gone through anything like I had. I would think, who are YOU to tell ME!
While I like to believe that my views have grown and matured over the years, I still understand that line of thought very well. I can not tell you how many troubled teens I’ve worked with (and even criminals) who would not give me the time of day until they heard my story.
How Do You Do That?
At times I have been asked to counsel with staff and my own peers too. The greatest question proposed to me is usually wondering why I could get their attention and respect when they had tried everything and couldn’t. After all… most of them had earned degrees where I have not.
What I tell them is it’s simply because these people, who are just like me and just like them, need to know that we can relate to them in some way. Otherwise, they just won’t listen and could care less. Then of course, come the questions of how can they possibly relate when they’ve not gone through the same things.
“So how can you and I best relate if you come from a sheltered life,
and I come from a dark past or the wrong side of the tracks?”
How We Relate
That answer seems to be simpler and simpler the older I get though. What I have learned is that it’s not about any particular path or event. Regardless of what you’ve been through, I’m sure you have experienced pain, heartache, rejection, guilt, shame, sorrow, etc. on some level at one time or another (the death of a loved one, troubled kids, divorce, broken family, abuse, been the victim of a crime, robbery, etc.)
That being said, it doesn’t matter that you have not had the same exact experience. What matters the most is that we can all relate to pain, loss, etc. just as we can all relate to love, happiness, etc. Somewhere in each of our lives we have experienced some measure of the wide range of emotions and feelings as everyone else has. And THAT is how we can all relate.
So, the next time someone wishes to confide in you or share their story, realize more than likely they are just needing someone to listen. Try not to be so nervous about HOW to understand or help them. Listen to their heart and for the feelings behind their words as they share, Then try to remember some event or circumstance in which you may have felt the same way. THAT is the level on which you can then relate and help the person through whatever it is they are facing.
Most of all, please remember that a victim just needs to know they are still
accepted and loved, despite whatever has happened to them.
If you still disagree… think about Christ. If somehow you have gotten through life being sheltered enough as to not experience some of these feelings, then I challenge you to think on Him. If you are a believer, then His life should evoke every range of emotion humanly possible from deep within your soul therefore, allowing you to be able to relate to others on some level. If that still doesn’t help, forget about trying to relate by way of experience or emotion – just be there to listen and love the person as they share their story simply, because they were created in God’s image no different than you are.
- Why Must We Suffer? by Jessie Jeanine
- Would I Ever Know Jesus? by Jessie Jeanine
- Good Grief! by Jessie Jeanine
- Not at the top – A Guest Post (chrismorriswrites.com)
- 10 Tips for Emotional Healing (psychologytoday.com)