A loved one dies. A job is lost. A surgery is scheduled. A child is sick. A miscarriage happens. A pet is lost. A relationship ends. An addiction is admitted. A hard pregnancy is prayed for. The bank account goes negative. The car doesn’t start. The house floods. The….the…a….the….
Different crises happen at different times to different people. Whenever others learn of these crises and stresses often, as is human nature, we want to say something. Something to comfort. Something to encourage. Something to help them. Something to de-stress them. Something that will make them happier. Something that will, for a moment, dull the pain & sadness among this person in front of me.
That is a worthy goal, and we should desire to do that, and then indeed put that desire into action.
The thing is, from both personal experience as well as listening to others, often times when this good & sweet desire to help & alleviate turns into action, it does the exact opposite of what’s intended.
Put another way, oh so often, people just flat out say the wrong thing, even with the best of intentions.
It happens all the time, and often the people whom it hurts rarely say anything to the offenders. We know they mean well, they say, and they probably didn’t realize what that sounded like.
But it hurts.
And it lingers.
And is remembered.
It feeds the hurt, the sadness, the anger instead of lessening it.
It creates other feelings.
Like being un-cared for.
Not being known.
Not wanting to talk about sensitive issues again.
Not wanting to share only to be hurt more.
It feels like the person probably feels better for trying to help, even if now you feel worse.
It’s a problem that few people talk about, but most likely everyone will inevitably experience.
This post is the first in a series in which we’ll discuss what & why certain things should & should not be said to hurting people, as well as ways in which to help hurting people that involve both words and actions.
The church especially should be a place of refuge, not a place to take refuge from, particularly in times of need & pain. May we all pray for forgiveness for the times we have unintentionally hurt others more, and strive to learn how to better serve those in need in the future.
I have my list, but what have been some things said to you when you were hurting that you wish hadn’t been? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story or advice, and we’ll include that in this series.
I’m praying for you. Grace to you.