A good friend's son recently achieved a measure of greatness in music by winning an international competition. I asked this friend, a college professor, if he planned to share this great news with his departmental colleagues. “No, probably not," he replied.
"Why not?" I asked in surprise. His exact answer I do not remember, but the gist of it was that he knew, by past experience, that they would not listen, and they would hurt him by their indifference. With their care-less-ness, they would tarnish this great moment he was carrying like a treasure. So it was better to keep it to himself than share it.
It is a rare and delicious experience when our great news is really listened to by another. What a treat when that unique person enters our excitement and, in even a small way, seems to capture what it means to us. (Listening, smiling, asking leading questions, making eye contact, maintaining a high level of energetic involvement, pats on the back — while we tell our story.)
Christians are making some progress in dealing with the hurts and heartaches of those around them. The next great frontier is learning to be genuinely interested in each other's good news. Tell about your tragedy and there will be people who stand still and listen respectfully. But tell your joys or triumphs and people change the subject quickly, their eyes glaze over with disinterest — you soon get their message: "I'm really not interested in the good things you've had happen to you."
The opposite happened to us a few years ago after Linda and I returned from a fortuitous wonderful trip to London, Nigeria and the Holy Land. Our friends asked us to tell them about it! Then they listened, asked great questions, and did all we could hope for. It was very gratifying. I realize now on how rare that experience is.
Christian living includes "weeping with those who weep" but also "rejoicing with those who rejoice." The hurts and heartaches that make us weep are shared, to some extent, in the Christian community. This is understandable, since it's the burdens that we feel the need to have help with. So reaching out for care is more likely to happen.
But good news seldom is shared. So—creating an atmosphere where the highlights of life can be talked about, without afterward having a sick feeling of having “your pearls trampled on”, is another big step in creating a caring community.
On the individual level, you and I must work hard at thoughtful responding. We must put effort into asking people about the nice things we've heard have happened to them and then we must listen and be energetic in responding. We will subdue the jealousy that subtly causes us to avoid hearing about their success or exciting experience. We will bite our tongues to prevent topping their story with our own, or quickly shifting the subject to some event in our own lives, of which theirs reminds us.
In a family, a wife is not irritated if her husband comes home exalting over an increase in pay. Nor will a brother be threatened if his sister becomes Miss America. They rejoice together because the success of one is the success of the other. They go up and down together. In leadership roles we must endeavor to draw attention to the joys, thrills, excitements, and successes of those we are caring about, so all will be encouraged to celebrate with them.
Have you had your good news trampled on? Please share it with us at ShowUp@careandkindness.org
Silly Thoughts At my age ’Getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.
At my age ’Getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.