Before It's Too Late: Take the Time
Willa Williams - March 8, 2022
Is there something you appreciate about someone but are too afraid to share? In today's blog, Willa Williams shares a personal story that teaches us to express appreciation and vulnerability before it's too late.
A few years ago, I was out for a run. As I was running, my oldest brother kept coming to mind. I began thinking about how much he meant to me, how I had memorable experiences with him while growing up, and how I really respected him in his career. He was a judge like my father and grandfather had been. Suddenly, I got the idea that I should actually share these thoughts and appreciations with him. I dismissed the thought and kept running. This process happened several more times, until I decided that I had better pay attention. I went out, got a card, and wrote him a letter, expressing all these thoughts and appreciations. A week later, my brother called me. Now, he was not the most talkative person on the phone, so it meant so much to me that he would take the time to call and let me know how much he appreciated my card.
A little over a year ago, my brother unexpectedly passed away. I experienced a lot of grief and sadness at his passing. However, what really helped me to process my pain was knowing that he knew how I felt about him. He knew how much I loved and respected him. That took the edge off my grief.
Opening up and being vulnerable with the important people in our lives at times can be so hard, yet it is very beneficial. It helps us in our self-awareness as we learn about what we think, how we feel, and how we can develop a healthy assertiveness in our lives. It is helpful to others, as it can provide clarity and encouragement to them. And it is helpful in our relationships, as it fosters closeness, authenticity and connectedness.
Of course, there are always exceptions. If someone is not safe for you, emotionally, physically, or otherwise, then being vulnerable with them is not wise. But if they are safe, sharing with them how you feel about them and about your relationship can be a healing, connecting process.
Sometimes we don’t want to be vulnerable with others. Perhaps there has been a disagreement or a falling out. Maybe it has been a while since there has been contact. Perhaps we are acting under the impression that the other person doesn’t really care, or maybe we think that they already know how we feel.
In times such as these, I think it helps to take a step back, and look at the big picture. It helps to remember that we care for this family member or friend. We love them and we are connected to them. They are still family, or like family. They may have made some mistakes, but our love for them is greater. And, if we are really honest with ourselves, we also may have made some mistakes ourselves, or likely contributed to the situation in some way. Life gets bumpy and rough. We hit snags and roadblocks sometimes. We make mistakes, and others do too. We need each other to make it through! I think that is why Paul describes believers by using the metaphor of a body, with the various parts truly needing and depending on each other. What helps us to appreciate each other is to see the big picture. The other person is not all bad; they are human, just as we are. It helps to recall and remember the good things that they have done, the times that they have been kind, loving, and helpful. And we can use those good memories as an anchor and base for our future interactions with them. Those memories adjust our perspective.
If someone is special to you, let them know. Share that with them. Talk with them, write them a letter, send them a text. You will encourage them. This is especially important if there has been or presently is some sort of rift. Let them know that you still love them, and that they are still important to you. Because you care for them, you want to talk with them and work things out. That will be good for them, for your relationship, and good for your own soul.
Willa Williams, MA, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She works at the Biola Counseling Center as a therapist and at the Biola Center for Marriage and Relationships as the Consulting Therapist. She has a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) and a Master of Arts in Counseling in Psychology from Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). She is Level 3 Trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, a Certified Prepare/Enrich Facilitator, and graduate of the Couples Institute, Level 1. Before coming to Biola, she served overseas at the Spanish Bible Institute in Barcelona, Spain, where she taught a class on counseling skills for pastors and served as the staff therapist for the students. She has been married for more than 30 years and has two adult sons and two lovely daughters-in-love. She has a passion for healthy relationships and enjoys working with couples as well as individuals. She appreciates the immense impact that healthy marriages and relationships have on couples as well as future generations.