I was taking my shower this morning and thinking of Audrey and her continual comment “that has never happened before.” She says that about her hearing aids hurting, hair growing on her chin, legs walking weakly, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up early…anything and everything that is something disconcerting. And of course, all these things happen almost on a daily basis.
One day as she complained about hair growing on her chin, I commented, “But I have the same thing happen to me.” I thought it would be comforting to her that this happens to people and it’s no big deal.
She replied defensively, “Well, it’s never happened to me before.”
“But my mother also has the same thing,” I countered.
“Well, my mother never had this!” she concluded.
In frustration, I gave up. Why was it, I wondered, that she never wanted to be reassured? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Yet every time I did, she steadfastedly refused to accept anything I said as even being truthful. And of course, that’s one of my hot buttons–her acting as if I’m lying. So this has been a continual struggle.
Then in the shower, I thought, “The next time she says something like that, I’ll say that there’s a first time for everything.” But the Lord let me know this was not the solution either. Then He ministered to me and I knew her comments are based in fear. She’s not looking for reassurance but for an acknowledgement of her fear and concern. “This has never happened before,” means, “Since it’s never happened before, something is wrong and I’m afraid of what it could mean.” Reassurance basically says, “It’s no big deal,” thus rejecting her concern. “Don’t feel that way” is what she hears and her concern is not addressed.
So, now I have a new response the Lord gave me. He said for me to say, “I wonder if you are concerned about that” or “Is that frightening?” or whatever will acknowledge her fear and concern.
I’m eager to try this and see her response. I’ll let you know and please pray that in the moment when I’m feeling bugged because she’s making little things into big things, and making all of life about herself (it seems to me–and I want it to be all about me!) that I’ll give her mercy through mirroring her concern.