Think back to the last friend you talked to on campus. Chances are, the exchange involved a well-rehearsed dialogue:
“How are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
And chances are, that was about as deep as the concern went.
But most of us say we’re “good” even when we’re drowning in our classes, battling our personal demons or struggling in our relationships. And yet we never ask, “Really? Are you really good?”
Dr. Jeff Arrington, associate dean of campus life, and Mark Lewis, director of Spiritual Life, encouraged members of the university to draw together and reach out to one another as a community in Chapel Monday and Tuesday.
And in light of the Zach Swan tragedy, Steve Rowlands, director of the Counseling Center, said checking on one another is vital.
“Part of the mending process is just being friends to each other; let each other know that you care,” Rowlands said.
Although affirmation is important, along with it must come genuine compassion and insistent probing – especially when we worry for our friends.
“I want to encourage people not to be afraid to talk to their friends and to ask them, ‘How are you doing?'” Rowlands said. “Ask the tough questions.”
Tough questions, he said, could include asking a friend if he or she has contemplated suicide, or volunteering to take them to a counseling center.
Yet Rowlands acknowledges that at the end of the day, no one shoulders the burden of saving a friend alone.
“Nobody needs to take complete responsibility for another person,” Rowlands said. “Somebody needs to feel comfortable going, ‘I need help.'”
Help can come in the form of referring a friend to a faculty member; accompanying him or her to the ACU Counseling Center, located in the McKenzie Hall basement, Room 3D; or giving Save Our Students (S.O.S.) the name of a friend who could need attention.
Help can also mean visiting the Counseling Center for information on ways to support friends battling suicidal thoughts or depression, Rowlands said.
Access to counselors – or anyone willing to listen – simply involves asking for it. Students can walk into the Counseling Center to talk to someone once, as part of Soda and a Solution – no paperwork or official registration required. Students can print out forms online and register to become officially involved in counseling.
We must communicate with one another in this community. Talk to someone if you are struggling – someone probably shares a similar struggle; someone longs to listen and pray with you.
Ask the next friend you see how they are doing – and care enough to hear the true answer.