By Jeff Becraft
Have you ever experienced something that you thought was extremely important or significant or incredible… and then you try to explain it to someone else? And they are just standing there smiling and nodding… and staring back at you? And you can tell they are not grasping the depth or the remarkable-ness of your experience? You keep talking but inside you are thinking, “They’re not picking up what I’m throwing down here.”
That’s because they were not there.
They didn’t experience what you experienced. And we can stand there and tell them all about it and show them pictures and… but they still don’t fully get it. They might comprehend the information… but they are not fully grasping the experience or the significance of it.
This is the importance of being there.
Several years ago, I had taken some young guys to a summer camp. One of my friends was speaking at the camp and I happened to be standing outside when he arrived. I walked along with him as he walked to the building where his room was. I forget the overall conversation but somehow we got talking about the camp and he commented something along the lines of, “You can’t experience what’s there if you are not there.” In other words, you can’t experience what happens at the camp just by hearing about the camp.
It is true concerning other areas of life. It is a whole different realm when we are actually there and experience it for ourselves. Information and the exchange of information just isn’t enough.
With my Dad now 97 and bedridden, he has good days and off days. I call him every day (as does my brother) but phone conversations can be hit and miss, depending on what kind of day he is having. And sometimes Dad will fall asleep during the conversation. (He has earned that right at 97.) So being with Dad has become even more significant when I get those opportunities. If I am just on the phone and Dad falls asleep, well… that’s the end of the conversation. But being there with him, and he falls asleep, I still enjoy the time together. We may even put on a baseball game and both of us wind up falling asleep. Being there with him, though, is still an enjoyable and meaningful experience.
There are times with a friend or loved one, whether in joy or especially in sorrow, when we don’t know what to say. It’s OK… there is significance in the moment… simply by being there.
Jeff Becraft is the Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Our Place of Hope is a paradigm shift for people living with mental illness that encourages them to regain meaning, purpose, and hope for their lives. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].