Pooh Bear is walking along the riverbank. Eeyore, his stuffed donkey friend, suddenly appears floating downstream -- on his back of all things, obviously troubled about the possibility of drowning.
Pooh calmly asks if Eeyore had fallen in. Trying to appear in complete control, the anguished donkey answers, "Silly of me, wasn't it?" Pooh overlooks his friend's pleading eyes and remarks that Eeyore really should have been more careful.
In greater need than ever, Eeyore politely thanks him for the advice (even though he needs action more than advice), Almost with a yawn, Pooh Bear notices, "I think you are sinking."
With that as his only hint of hope, Eeyore asks Pooh if he would mind rescuing him. So Pooh pulls him from the river. Eeyore apologizes for being such a bother, and Pooh, still unconcerned, yet ever so courteous, responds, "Don't be silly. You should have said something sooner."
How these two friends remind me of the way real people often interact with each other.
We speak so carefully to our friends, so as not to give the impression we think they may be in trouble. In return, they respond in words designed to conceal the fact they are hurting "big time" and desperately longing for someone to give them an encouraging word, as well as a helping hand.
Why do we fear revealing a heart of concern? Are we afraid of being rebuffed for intruding into someone's space? Do we fear that our friend may accuse us of prying into their business?
"Friends don't let friends drive drunk" is a great slogan. I want to apply that concept to our relationship to hurting people. "Caring people don't let their hurting friends continue to hurt."
It's better to risk losing a friend than to stand by while a friend loses his (or her) life, job or marriage. To idly stand by is the greatest act of unfriendliness I can think of.
The Eeyores in your life and mine frequently are so embarrassed at their situation that they don't wish to draw attention to themselves by asking for help. So you and I must take that risk for their sakes.
Kenai Peninsula Marriage Savers is committed to doing all we can to assist couples that are struggling to make a good marriage out of one that may be in danger of sinking.
We believe it is better to risk rejection for revealing a caring heart than to have friends lose their marriage while we simply watch. We also desire to encourage and support families.
Chuck Thornton is the director of Kenai Peninsula Marriage Savers, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Visit the Web page at peninsulalagrace.org/marriagesavers. For more information, call 262-6442.
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