Sometimes they come in needing help. Oh, sometimes there is an occasional person who is trying to use a minister as a free psychologist - and they disappear when they realize that seeing me doesn't count as an 'official' visit for insurance purposes. But mostly, they see the church as a place of respite, a literal sanctuary if you will. And often their questions are larger than anything that a 30 minute visit can handle: why did their brother have to die? Why can't they be happy? Where is God is all this?
Sometimes they come in needing answers. Quick, formulaic answers. They want to know why they can't hear God, and are angered when I respond that when you've not spoken to Someone in years and years, it's not that They haven't be speaking - it may be that you don't recognize Their voice. They want absolution. They want assurance that they are okay, that God has not forgotten or forsaken them.
And sometimes they just come in and sit. They look at me as if I can somehow produce a magic Eight-Ball and make it all right. Like I can somehow say or do the one thing that will change their direction, or illuminate their path, or.............I don't know, just CHANGE stuff.
You know, we do what we can. And sometimes when they come to me needing hope, I give them the last little shred I can muster; because it's no different on the other side of the pulpit. Where the difference lies, I guess, is that I have been in this Relationship enough to know to wait; to ask when I need help; to yell if I need to; to kick chairs when necessary; to not think of myself as a failure as a person when I've made a big mistake; to see the 'they' and know that it could just as easily be me tomorrow.
So - someone in your circle is walking on thin ice. We are not called to do God's job - we are called to do God's work. Sit with someone when you can; listen without trying to respond with your own story; pray without ceasing; give without counting the cost; and whatever you do, say 'thanks. help. wow' at least once a day to the One who loves you just the way you are, and loves you way too much to let you stay that way.
Let's be careful out there.