Powering into a new year, symbolism in a locomotive photographed along US Highway 14 between Owatonna and Janesville.
A NEW YEAR BRINGS introspection, the opportunity to start anew, to face challenges head on, to build up rather than tear down.
That can be applied on a personal level and on a community level. In Faribault, my home for more than 30 years, I’ve never felt a stronger sense of caring for one another. That message of “you are not in this alone” has repeated itself in words and actions following two murder-suicides here in December. My community is choosing to be there for one another. That uplifts and empowers.
When life throws us a curve, we need to be there for another, linked by the commonalities of care and compassion.
Yet, it takes more than a community reacting to tragedy to effect real and long-lasting change. And that starts with each of us. But we get busy. And we forget about the individuals in our circle of family and friends who are grieving, battling illnesses, struggling financially, facing unimaginable challenges. I try to be cognizant of the needs of others, especially those closest to me. Sometimes I fail, though, to extend much-needed care. There is no excuse. I have enough time to pick up the phone, send an email, jot a note in a card and/or simply ask, “How are you doing?” I can listen and encourage without injecting my opinion, my advice, myself.
In a harvested cornfield, we choose to walk around the stubble to avoid physical pain. In life, we need to acknowledge the painful stubble in others’ lives and not avoid it.
By ignoring an issue, by failing to address the difficulty a friend or family member is facing, we add to the pain. Silence is not always golden.
Sometimes we must intentionally choose to keep at arm’s length those who fail to support us. That failure can come via omission or via hurtful words and behavior. We are all adult enough to realize when words encourage and when words hurt.
So many times I’ve observed people shift a conversation to themselves, as if that’s going to help whomever is struggling. This is not about ourselves; this is about the person sharing his/her concern.
This strong visual shows that we can help one another. Photographed recently near New Ulm.
Bottom line: We need to hone our listening skills, to show genuine compassion, to be here for each other.
TELL ME: How do you help family and friends who are struggling with challenges in life? What do you find helpful and hurtful when you are dealing with a difficulty? Please be specific. We can all learn from one another.
© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling