"I don't know any parent who says, 'Yeah, I really…
Lending a Hand Vs. Lending a Heart
When the phone rang at 3 o clock in the morning, I awoke with dread. My heart was thumping in my head as I lifted the receiver. “Hello?” I answered in a haze. It was my dearest friend, but it didn’t sound like her. “Gary’s dead” she said flatly. In sheer disbelief, I stammered out a few words and without knowing what else to do, I simply said, “I’ll be right over.”
As I made the short drive to her house through the blackness of night I wondered what I would say when I got there. I imagined my friend falling into my arms as we wept together over the sudden loss of her husband. But when I arrived, the scene wasn’t anything like I had imagined. Upon seeing me, she gave me a quick hug then ushered me in where another friend was sitting at the dinner table. This very practical Sensing Thinking Judging friend was helping with the whirlwind of logistics that occur after a death. My friend was still in shock and not able to grieve yet. I felt completely out of place like I should not be there, but I knew I had to be. After all, she had called me hadn’t she?
I struggled each day wondering what my role should be in her grieving process. Other people were doing such wonderful practical things that I wish I would have thought of! Taking the dog to the groomer, doing Gary’s laundry, and cleaning her house. They all just jumped right in and took over. I felt completely useless. I wanted to be there for my friend. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and cry with her, but everything was too chaotic and she was constantly surrounded.
I continued to stay close praying for her and wishing I could do something to help.
There was a steady stream of food coming into the house, but I noticed my friend wasn’t taking time to eat. I went out and got her favorite salad, not knowing if she would end up eating it or not. Later that evening as things began to slow down, she mentioned she was hungry but didn’t feel like eating anything. I brought her the salad and it was just what she needed. I also was able to rub her back as she fell asleep that night.
After the whirlwind of the funeral was over and the dust settled, the real grieving began. It was then that my role became clear. As an intuitive feeler, I can lock into another heart and take on some of that pain. I can listen intently and ask the right questions when needed. In the days and years that followed after Gary’s death, I heard my dear friend recall that dreaded night over and over and each time, my eyes would well with tears as I listened.
A Sensing person is gifted with the physical, practical acts involved with caretaking, whereas an intuitive feeling person is gifted in the non-physical act of empathizing and listening. The sensor offers a hand, while the intuitive feeler offers their heart. Of course, I Iearned a great deal from these sensing friends and will be able to offer more practical help if I ever go through a similar situation. I also learned that the acts people perform for the grieving can be just as much to comfort themselves and feel useful, as they are for the person in need.
Cross Country is a Dangerous Sport
My 13-year-old ISFJ (Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging) son Nathan is the sweetest easiest going kid you will ever meet. He is always happy and content with himself and life in general. If I see him languishing around the house, I simply say, “Nathan why don’t you go for a run with the dog?” and he will cheerfully say, “okay Mom” and give me a hug on the way out the door. At school, the teachers adore him and appointed him as a student mentor as well as student of the month.
Nathan’s challenge has always been his lack of competitiveness and coordination. The lack of competitiveness is a temperament issue, but the coordination is not. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and ADD as a kindergartener. He has always had understanding teachers and we have always put him in individual sports like swimming, skiing and cross country where he wouldn’t have to compete head to head with other boys.
His first year on the Middle School Cross Country team came to a screeching halt, in the first week of practice, when he tripped over a girl who fell right in front of him in a game of human dominoes! The next day, he came to school sporting a neon green cast on his arm and enjoyed hearing all the jokes about “falling for a girl”!
So as the new school year began, he had high hopes for a successful Cross Country season. It was around 3:30 on a Tuesday, one week into the new Cross Country season when I see my phone light up with the name of Nathan’s school. My heart sunk and my intuition told me something bad had happened! Sure enough, it was a call to report another tripping incident. This time there was no girl involved, just Nathan jogging along while telling another teammate “last year at this time, I broke my arm right in this spot!” Boom! Crack! Déjà vu! His coach offered to wrap him in bubble wrap and I seriously considered the suggestion!
At times like this, I am so thankful that Nathan’s Father is also in the rare 25% of men who are feelers rather than thinkers! Typically a feeler is able to see situations from all perspectives rather than a black and white point of view. A typical thinker perspective would be, “Boys excel in sports so with enough practice, they will win”. Nathan already beats himself up for being clumsy and if he was expected to follow in a competitive Father’s athletic footsteps he would feel like a complete failure. It is critical for a thinking father who may have a feeling son to take off the coach’s hat and put on the hat of understanding to find out where his son’s true talents lie. For some Father’s (and even Mother’s), they are trying to live out their unrealized athletic dreams through their children or they are pushing hard for that college scholarship.