Part 2: In part 1, we talked about the “lost sheep” within the fold: how the ability to flourish as human beings is affected in people who struggle with feelings of being unloved or being unable to live as their authentic selves.

So, what do we do with these “lost sheep” among us? (Perhaps we feel that we are one of them, ourselves.) For starters, we must instill hope, and pray for these lost sheep. Christ the Good Shepherd is the answer to our flaws and foibles! He restores the universe to its original beatitude through His death and resurrection thereby winning the victory for us all and sending us His Spirit! The Church is a living organism made up of members—of sheep. We “the Sheep” are to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow the Church that He left us—through His 12 Apostles.

But the Good Shepherd tells His sheep to look out for one another—love one another as He has loved us (Jn 15:12). That means looking out for and noticing the hurting, yet unseen and forgotten lost sheep right next to us. When encountering someone in emotional pain and deep distress, he or she will likely suppress his/her authentic self before you.

Instead of first trying to change the other with our skill sets and solutions, how about accepting where they’re at? Being proceeds doing! Let other be other without the need to fix, solve or change!

Often when we try to “change” a person, whether we be therapists, family members or clergy, it is we ourselves who are not comfortable with the mental anguish the person is experiencing.

So, we “remedy” the problem with a quick-fix solution and the little sheep is left in the same original state—feeling unheard, dejected, judged, and unloved.

Dan Siegel, a prominent psychologist refers to the “Four S’s” regarding attachment theory in reference to children. They need to feel safe, secure, seen and soothed—adult sheep do too.

This is not to say we should stop offering coping strategies and skill sets for our hurting “sheep” to bring about change—but this comes after. Change is only possible when acceptance of another is also given a voice. If we, by the grace of God choose to put ourselves aside, slow down, silence the proverbial noise in our noisy world and hear the voice of the one hurting next to us, we “the Sheepfold” can heal and grow as a flock, freeing up the Good Shepherd to pursue that one sheep who got away and only He Himself can find.

Peter A. Drabbant LPC, CSAC, Licensed Therapist, Catholic Charities Families Services

Learn more about mental health counseling available through Catholic Charities Family Services. During the pandemic, all counseling sessions are being conducted remotely, using secure teletherapy.