When my daughter, Annika, was almost three years old, she wasn’t nearly as talkative as her older brother had been at that same age. I didn’t think twice about it. Each child is different. I think my son, Mark, talked in the womb! To have one that was a little harder to understand, or a little more in the “normal” range, seemed like a reasonable explanation. Yet one day, her Mother’s Day Out teacher expressed some concern that Annika was harder to understand than the other two year olds in her class.
Somewhat casually, I made an appointment with a speech therapist to have Annika evaluated. As we entered the waiting room, I thought to myself that this lady is going to laugh me out of here. I felt like the woman going to the hospital for the third time with false labor. The therapist greeted me and took my daughter into her office. An hour later she emerged with results showing that she had failed 9 of the 10 sounds that they tested. Wow.
What Annika’s teacher had, which I lacked, was perspective. In a room full of two year olds, the issue was easier to identify and harder to explain away. The perspective of her sweet teacher was critical to our ability to identify Annika’s need for help.
So many times in ministry, a situation will be brought to us where we wished that the individual or couple had someone else’s perspective earlier. We are all pros at minimizing a problem. Like I did with Annika, we think, “It’s no big deal.” But whether it is conflict in a marriage, a child struggling in school, a teen flirting with self-harm, a young adult making poor choices, or your own struggle with depression, be careful not to wait too long before dealing with the issue head on.
We often wait too long because we are unwilling to get someone else’s perspective on the issue. Our pride keeps us from telling a trusted friend about our struggle. Fear keeps us from asking our husband to talk to someone. Embarrassment holds us back from seeking out wise counsel.
Most of the time, the issue that surfaces is a symptom. The quicker the core issue can be addressed, the better the opportunity for full restoration. Think about it this way: What is the worst thing that can happen if you address a struggle prematurely? There is very little risk for making sure you, your child, or your marriage is healthy over a minor problem. There is enormous risk in waiting too long.
The speech therapist explained to me that it was so helpful to bring Annika to her when we did because children will begin to eliminate words from their vocabulary that others don’t understand. Left unchecked, the problem causes a myriad of other issues that have to be relearned. The parallel exists in our relationships, too. Sometimes an individual has a deep hurt that she or he minimizes or ignores. Without realizing it, that wound then causes them to interact with friends or family in an unhealthy way. Now the original struggle is causing its ripple effect in other areas.
I beg you… let someone you trust into your world to gain an objective perspective and guard those you love from pain that can be avoided.