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In caring for those who are in one of life’s difficult places, the most common question is, “What can I do?”
The desire to “do” something is entirely understandable. There are countless realities in our broken world that we wish were different, and – in a culture that emphasizes problem-solving and competence — it is natural to think in terms of what we can do. But, of course, there is often little or nothing that can be done. Many losses leave their mark.
Years - Book - Brother - Battle - Brain
Some years ago, now, I wrote a book about my brother’s battle with brain cancer called The Dave Test. Based upon his struggle to find a loving, supportive community, I asked 10 questions that I still believe are a real test of our ability to be present to the needs of others who find themselves in desperate places:
Can I say, “Life sucks”?
Can I give up my broken gods?
Can I avoid using stained-glass language?
Can I admit that some things will never get better?
Can I give up trading in magic and superstition?
Can I stop blowing smoke?
Can I say something that helps?
Can I grieve with others?
Can I walk wounded?
Can I be a friend?
Those questions were designed to help people reflect — not just on what we can do in order to be present to friends in hard places — but to reflect on the kind of people that we can be. The questions were also designed to shine a bit of light on the kind of faith that sustains us in hard places, because all too often what we offer to others is based upon distorted notions about God and prayer. I still believe those questions are a useful tool for self-reflection that...
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