Have you ever had someone you know go through a rough patch and you just didn’t know what to say to them. So often it is difficult to know how to respond to someone when they are feeling low or experiencing some turmoil in their life, especially if it is a family member or close friend. Knowing what to say is a delicate art. More importantly is knowing when to say it, or even if you should say anything at all. Ever had one of those people who just don’t seem to be aware of other people’s body language or emotional state? They just barge right in like emotional bulldozers and can say things that are really insensitive. Most of the time these people have good intentions, they just don’t realise that what they are saying is actually making you feel worse, not better. Sadly many times these people often appear in the form of family members or close friends. It can be very discouraging to find that the people who you thought would and should be your biggest supporters are sometimes the greatest source of discouragement. And it is a tricky situation to be in because one one hand you are getting hurt because the things they are saying are making you feel like you should just give up because it seems like no-one understands or is willing to listen but then on the other hand you know that they are just saying these things because they love you and they genuinely want to help you (sometimes they aren’t trying to help and are just sick of seeing you sit and wallow in self pity, but most of the time they are saying things out of love and concern).
But every now and then God sends along someone who is concerned about you, who may very well think you need to stop wallowing in self pity…BUT they don’t say it. They just sit and listen, sometimes for hours while you pour out to them from the depths of your heart exactly how you are feeling. And the funny thing is, most people know that they should’t be wallowing in self pity, they know, they don’t need someone to tell them. They feel bad enough already about how they are feeling, don’t make them feel worse by telling them what they know everyone else is thinking. Sometimes all they need is for someone to come alongside them and be a silent hearer. What I mean by a silent hearer is someone who will sit and listen WITHOUT trying to offer advice on what they should or should not be doing. If someone wants your advice they will usually ask for it, IF they feel like they are not going to be judged in the same breath. I think a lot of people don’t talk about their thoughts and feeling because 1) they are afraid of what other people will think and 2) they don’t want to feel like they are disrupting someone else’s busy life. It is so easy to get caught up with what is happening in our own lives and the struggles and stresses we have that we don’t notice the plight of others along the way.
God calls us to edify one another and to bear one another’s burdens. We are to love one another with a brotherly love and to show to each other the Love of God.
Galatians 6:2 says “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
This needs to be one of the key principles of our marriage as well. To always take the time to find out how your husband or wife is doing emotionally and spiritually. It is hard to connect with someone if you don’t know them. For those who have children it is very easy to get caught up in that and to put your marriage in the back seat to get back to later. This is wrong thinking. As much as taking care of your children is important, taking care of your spouse MUST come first. If your focus is on the kids or on working or whatever it may be, then all of that is going to be for nothing, if your marriage breaks down. The man was created to be the provider of the home and the woman was given to the man as a help meet, someone who compliments and completes him. Now there is nothing wrong with working so that you can earn money so that you can have a decent life, but it should not be your main focus. And it is necessary to spend time with your children to nurture and to guide them, but that should not be your main focus either. Your spouse should be your main focus AFTER your relationship with Christ. If your not maintaining a good relationship with your heavenly father, your not going to be maintaining a good relationship with anyone else.
James 1:19 ” Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
Be willing to hear what other people have to say, especially your kids and your spouse. Assuming that you know what they will say does not set you up to have a good conversation. Listen to what they want to tell you, wait until they have told you everything AND then have your say, don’t interrupt them. That says that your are only interested in your own opinion and that you haven’t really been paying attention. Don’t focus on the negatives. We are sooooo good at focusing on what we find most annoying in other people aren’t we? It somehow makes us feel better about ourselves that we don’t have the same annoying personality trait or habit as “such and such”. The bible says we should focus on ourselves first before we try to fix “problems” we see in other people.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
It is not your job to try to fix someone else (especially your spouse), it is your job to show them the love of Christ. If they are living a life that is in direct disobedience to God’s word then yes rebuke them but don’t go in guns blazing. We are to be humble and to show them kindly and lovingly from God’s word that the situation they are in is a direct result of their disobedience or rebellion. But if someone is simply going through a hard time then be a SILENT HEARER. Give your opinion if and when it it is asked for, otherwise just encourage them, let them know they are loved and valued and that they are not a total failure. Sometimes just having someone say this is enough to give us the strength to keep on keeping on. Pray for them, if they are willing, pray with them. If your are married make it a regular habit to have devotions and prayer time as a couple. It can be difficult when you have so many other demands on your time, my husband and I fail in this area a lot. But it is very important and we will be persevering until we find a way that works for us. Love God, Love your Family, Love Your Neighbour and Do Good. Encourage and Edify Others and make a concerted effort to Not Discourage, even if your intentions are well meant, think about what you have to say and ask yourself “Is what I am going to say going to help this person in this situation?”
I leave you with my favourite quote from the first movie I ever saw in a cinema and one of my favourite movies.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin at all.” Thumper (Bambi)