If Not Me, Then Whom Shall It Be?

We all need a wingman sometimes. Many of us would never admit to it but we often plaster on a mask and show up at work with a smile on our face. We can fool many people with this pretended all is well face, but often those that take the time can tell that the laughter is a little too forced and the eyes shroud deeper feelings. Often we throw out the question, “How are you?” or the follow on answer, “Fine” without really stopping or wanting to know more. We rush from task to task caught up in a cycle that seems to value appointments and activities more than the people quietly hurting next to us because if we really took the time to listen not just with our ears, but with our hearts, we might have to do something. Doing something requires action, time, and investment into another person. It requires more than the surface touch. It involves showing up and being fully present.

One of department chairs at the United States Air Force Academy told my husband that he could teach anyone to teach, but he couldn’t teach relationships. Rules without a relationship do not work. Look at any teenager. They know which adults believe in them and who are genuine, thus they step up and are genuine and positive. If a teen knows that the adult assumes the worst or is fearful, they will often respond by behaving in the expected manner which reinforces the negativity.

Being a wingman isn’t always easy. When a person is suicidal, he may often get to a point where it looks like he is doing better. They may act like they are doing better. While being a wingman doesn’t mean that you are a counselor, it does mean knowing someone well enough to spend time with them and to really listen to the answer to questions. It is in speaking up to others who can guide the hurting person to help. Wingmanship is in following up, doing what is right for the good of the individual, and it is in recognizing we all need lifelines All relationships take time and effort. The effort comes so that when a person is hurting or needs a helping hand, they are comfortable talking to you. Additionally, relationships take action. Action isn’t always easy, but it is in knowing someone and caring enough to ask the tough questions and to do what is needed to keep the other person safe or from doing something they shouldn’t. Action means stepping up and not waiting for someone else to take action. People do assume that there are other people who are closer or better able to help, but in waiting, hurting people often break further. Being a wingman is looking beyond the mask and saying, “If not me, then whom shall it be?”

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