We Need Care, Not Your Agenda
My last few “We need…” posts addressed ways that people try to help their hurting friends, but (sadly) miss the mark. This last one is different. This last one is worse.
The only thing worse than someone unintentionally hurting you when they intend to help you is when they actually get excited that you are hurting.
Who? What kind of cruel person gets happy when someone else is in pain?
Political junkies and Christians, that’s who.
My comment section and social media on this series has been a testimonial to this. Many many more people have shared their stories with me in confidence. The truth may hurt, but here it is:
There is no one more heartless than a person with an agenda.
That prominently includes Christians/the religious, and very political individuals, but it also includes: conspiracy theorists, health and wellness champions that are completely dialed in to one particular product or program, and even some social justice warriors.
These people tend to have a very narrow focus. They see everything in life through the lens of their own passion. This is dangerous, because it causes them to think of everyone in terms of “us and them”, and it reduces people to facts and stats to support their own cause.
I am struggling to explain this well, so here are some examples of what this looks like:
Person suffering from chronic pain because of a catastrophic vehicle accident years prior:
I can’t, sorry. My knee and hip are inflamed again, becau–
Fitness Bro, interrupting: You too? I keep telling people, if they would just do “Exercise Program XYZ” every week, they wouldn’t get old and creaky like that!
Person with Depression: I’m sorry, I can’t make it tonight. I just haven’t been feeling–
Zealous church-goer, interrupting: That’s exactly why you need to come! You wouldn’t get so down if you came to church 4 times a week like I do! Don’t you know that the scriptures say to gather together?
Single Mom who just lost her job for being late. (She’s usually the most punctual person in the world, but her car keeps breaking down.) It has been so hard to keep a job right now. I just wish I could get a—
Social Justice Warrior, interrupting: I hear you, Girl! Our society isn’t built for single mothers! It’s an injustice and something has to be done. You should join our march!
Parent with a special-needs child: It’s hard getting them to school on time because my daughter need—
Perfect Parent, interrupting: I never had that problem. I taught my kids how to take care of themselves. I told them, “I am your mother, not your maid!”
Do you see it? When a person believes that all problems can be solved by the solution that worked for them, or that all problems are related to the cause they are championing, a number of things happen:
- They Interrupt Interrupting shuts down conversation. It prevents anyone from telling them anything, including some very important facts about the situation that they should really know before they pass judgment.
- They Assume There is a saying (don’t be a goody-goody by pretending you’ve never heard it), “When you ‘ass-u-me’, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” It’s true. Humans are complicated. There is always more to the story. Assuming to know it all and have the answer immediately is the perfect way to look like an… You get the idea. Don’t do it. All assuming does is put you on a list of friends to never talk to again (about anything that matters, anyway.)
- They Give Inappropriate Advice I wrote a whole post on this one already. Advice is only valuable when it comes from someone who cares and has all the facts. People with agendas already think they have all the facts. It makes them insensitive. And it often makes them wrong.
- They Judge When you believe that the problem and the solution are simple, you start to look down on the people who struggle with it. They wouldn’t be in this mess if they would just… No. You don’t actually know what the mess is because you didn’t ask. Stop that.
- They Turn People Into Statistics This one gets to me every time. It comes with a smile, a knowing nod, and a twinkle in their eye. Ah yes, their body language says, you’re also affected by this thing. I’m not surprised, since I’ve been saying all along…
I really hate being a statistic that makes a self-righteous person become even more self-righteous. Being reduced to a number in someone’s mind is one of the most dehumanizing things I endure regularly. I’m sure many of you can relate.
A Personal Example
I almost didn’t add this next part. I wrote it and erased it a few times, because I just know that someone is going to focus on the wrong details. But it is a personal and recent example of how a person with an agenda reduced me to a number and bulldozed over me in a vulnerable moment.
Earlier this spring, one of my children was flagged as a “close contact” for the dreaded C-virus. This meant that my children and I had to self-isolate for two weeks. No physical contact with the outside world. Not even a walk around the block.
It was a difficult task made more difficult by a number or things:
1. My kids are little boys and our house was teeny-tiny. “Bouncing off the walls” is not just a figure of speech in our home!
2. One of my children has special needs. Virtual schooling is extremely hard for him. Losing access to all forms of therapy, and all sense of normal, and all routines for two weeks is just a nightmare.
3. I was doing this alone. I was isolating myself and the kids away from my husband so that he could still go to work.
4. We were trying to sell our house at the time, and all viewings had to stop for these two weeks. So frustrating! (And scary, as we thought we might miss our opportunity to get a bigger house that we wanted, due to our small house not selling. Talk about stressful!)
5. I was already physically burnt-out, and in a low place emotionally and mental-health-wise. This felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I cried half the night when we heard because I just didn’t think I had the strength in me to make it.
I shared this in a call with a friend.
Actually, I tried to share it in a call with someone I thought was a friend.
I barely got out the words “close contact” when their eyes began to roll and their invisible pitchfork came out.
WHO said he was a close-contact? The first of many rapid-fire questions I was asked, which were apparently just rhetorical, since this person talked over all of my answers.
This is ridiculous! This is a conspiracy! This is government over-reach! It violates our rights! And don’t get me started on all the people the government has knowingly killed with this vaccine that they know is dangerous! …
There was more, but you get the idea.
Eventually they had to go, so they abruptly finished their rant, told me to say hello to a mutual friend that I live nearer to, and hung up the phone.
I was left with a big gaping hole in my heart.
I was just a number. Another entry of data in this person’s mind, supporting their claim of atrocities by the government. I certainly wasn’t a human being who needed to talk to a friend.
I was dying inside. I was broken, and afraid, and I just needed someone to tell me that it was going to be ok. I needed someone to tell me that I was strong enough.
Obviously, it wasn’t this person.
Hurting people don’t need an agenda–religious, political, otherwise. They just need a friend.
Will you be a friend today? It’s as simple as listening without interrupting or changing the subject. Trust me, it’s the #1 thing that hurting people want. (More about what hurting people want coming next week. 🙂 )
© 2021 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.
(NOTE: I will not entertain any discussion of Covid-19 in the comments. If this is what you want to talk about after reading this post, you have missed the point.)