In a recent conversation, a friend said, "Andy, I wish I had the answer for you" as we talked about hard things being hard. And that statement resonated with me a lot. I am a fixer. My favorite thing to do is find the answer, the solution, and change the circumstances when presented with a problem.
But the more I thought about, right now, when hard things are hard, that in these moments, most of us are not actually looking for an answer, Tough situations can rarely be reduced to AN answer. There are far too many things to consider that anyone not going through it on a daily basis likely can't grasp.
But as an answer giver, a solution maker, a fixer, if this can't be solved, what is it that we need instead? What are the things that have people do that resonated and encourage friends going through tough times if not providing answers?
The answer: asking good questions.
There are usually so many different angles to consider and to think through that most people in the midst of the fight might not even see. Because of the all consuming nature of the daily fight, what they may need the most is for others to help make sure they are asking the right questions.
And while asking questions doesn't have the drop-the-mic win factor of offering solutions (my favorite feeling) it is the thing that shows we are listening, seeking to understand, and most importantly we are there for the people we love. And when hard things are hard, that is the only real answer we need to give and they need to hear: You are loved and you are not alone.