Can You Hear Me Now?

The commercial is funny because so many of us can relate to it. We immediately see ourselves walking around a room searching for a cell signal. “Can you hear me now?” So many times the signal would drop just as you desperately needed to hear or communicate a message, thought or feeling of/to the person on the other end of the line. The experience most often evokes feelings of frustration and/or anger.

Can you hear me now?

These experiences annoy us but they seldom make or break us. We know eventually the broken communication will be restored. We have hope. All of us have had times in our lives we’ve felt unheard. If those situations continued repeatedly for a period of time, frustration would set in and lead to anger. What if that period of time were to span years? A feeling of rejection may then give way to a sense of hopelessness.

Can you hear me now?

Working with students every Wednesday night at our church, I am all too familiar with the faces of the unheard. Mixed among the laughter and smiles of the crowd, I see them. Their heads are down, brows furrowed and their hands shoved deep into their pockets. In other faces I see an obvious sadness or simply a blank stare. But the faces that concern me the most are the ones that wear a mask. If you could see words written on the mask they might read, “I’m doing great. I’ve got everything under control. No problems here.” But underneath they are silently screaming just the opposite.

Can you hear me now?

Mask wearers are hard to reach. They have been unheard for so long they feel the only way to be heard is to pretend they are someone else. I know because I was one of them. On the outside I had it all together. On the inside my world was falling apart. It was only after I no longer had the strength to hold up the mask that people saw the real me.

Can you hear me now?

According to an article from the Centers of Disease Control, approximately 4,600 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 take their lives each year. These young people can be reached and you don’t need a PhD to do it. For me it was a dear friend who cared enough to see behind the mask and acted on what she found there as well as the love of a compassionate God that helped drag me out of the pit.

Can you hear me now?

Here are 10 ways anyone can help the unheard:

1. Simply acknowledge them: A smile, wave, or hello goes a long way. You don’t even have to know them to do that.

2. Use the technology of today: If your children or grandchildren carry phones, send them a simple text letting them know you are thinking of them.

3. Pray: Praying for them is great. Praying with them over a particular situation is even better.

4. Listen to them: I mean really listen. Whether they are 11 and talk endlessly about Lego’s, a 16 year old who feels their lives are coming to an end because a boy/girl at school doesn’t like them or someone at their school tried/committed suicide. Practice active listening. Make responses that let them know you hear them and aren’t just nodding your head. They can tell if you are blowing them off. Ask questions even if what they are talking about doesn’t fall into your normal scope of conversation.

5. Be involved in their lives: Teenagers and young adults today are dealing with situations we never dreamed of when we were their age. If you are involved, you will notice changes that can signal trouble.

6. Be present: Sometimes it’s not your words they need but your proximity. We often feel uncomfortable in silence but if are constantly talking we don’t leave gaps for them say anything even if they wanted to. Often they feel better because we take the time to be with them.

7. Step out of your comfort zone: Approach them instead of waiting for them to come to you. Whether it’s your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or the kid down the block. We can’t help them if we don’t know them. What are their likes and dislikes?

8. Dig a little deeper: Once you have some level of rapport, ask how things are at home and at school. Sometime those that feel unheard will open up right away because they have been just waiting for someone to ask. Be prepared to listen. Ask if they would like some advice. Be ready for “fine” but pay attention to tone of voice, eye contact and body language. Acknowledge that you see they might be struggling with something and let them know you are available if they want to talk.

9. Follow up: If you have had a conversation, check back and see how they are doing.

10. Get help: If what they are dealing with is beyond your ability to help them, tell them. Let them know that someone else needs to know. If it is your child, get them involved in some kind of counseling.

Can you hear me now?

This generation is screaming this through their silence. Please answer emphatically, “Yes. I can hear you!”

#CentersofDiseaseControl-youthsuicide

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About The mom doc

Proverbs 31 wife and mother of 6.
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