I listened to a speaker talk about how alone we can feel when we are in a dark place. How depression and anxiety (and life circumstances) can spur us to feel disconnected and alone.
Not long after, he let us know he’d be asking some simple multiple choice questions and invited us to talk about them with someone beside us, a spouse or someone we’d arrived with.
I sat alone. No spouse, and the only people closeby had an obvious person to pair with.
I chuckled about it at first because of the irony, but then I thought about the others who might be uncomfortable with sitting alone, who might already feel vulnerable because of the mention of dark places and now felt that darkness pushing into them.
I’m certain that wasn’t the intention of the speaker. And whether intentional or not, reaching out and connecting with others in our darkness and struggles is sometimes one of the best things we can do. But it’s not easy. It’s risky. It’s exhausting.
We can’t know what everyone around us is dealing with. We can’t know the filters with which they’re hearing what is being said by others and us. But we can be aware. We can be sensitive. We can be attentive to clues that indicate someone needs some kindness and encouragement.
Pay attention. There are people around you who are feeling disoriented by the darkness. Shining a bright light in their faces isn’t the best strategy, but shining a light ahead to show them what might be a few possible next steps can definitely help.