I was going back and reading some of my old posts and came across this one and thought I would re-post it again. If you have already read it, sorry for the re-occurrence, but if not... I pray that it speaks to your heart.
Enduring a trial for a little more than 3 years has opened many doors for words better left unspoken by those who only have my best interest in mind. These very sincere people want really nothing more than to somehow feel they can relate to the path I am walking. I have had many talks with family and close friends also enduring trials of various degrees that have all expressed at one time or another, the “sting” of words spoken to them from a sincere heart.
I want to be completely transparent and honest for those who want nothing more than to “relate” or “pass along encouraging words” so that you may peek inside this world, if not for just but a moment and hopefully see the impact your words of encouragement may have on a soul that is broken & tired.
Please know that it is with a sincere and fragile heart that I broach this topic as I try and share with you perspective from a different world. These words, “a different world” I choose to use because they best sum up where heavy laden trial goers feel they are when enduring such times. I’d like to tell a short story to provide a baseline for where I am going with all this.
Imagine just for a moment, Little Bo Peep walking into Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary with bible in hand desiring nothing more than to share the gospel and encouraging words with lost souls behind bars. She is given a visitors badge and walked down heavily secured halls until she reaches a room where behind a table sits a man with wrists and ankles bound in chains. His sleeves are rolled up revealing partial tattoos expressing pride and defiance. His face is aged and scared telling stories of a life battled with explosive anger, fear, regret, denial and depression. His eyes slant with jousting curiosity as he look’s upon Little Bo Peep with her bible in hand. He thinks to himself, “What in the world is she doing here?” Little Bo Peep’s heart is so tender and sweet and looks at this man with a deep desire to encourage with scripture and say comforting words like; “I understand what you must be going through”, “God never gives us more than we can handle”, “At least you have shelter and food.” She then opens her bible to offer scripture in hopes of providing him hope while he sits in utter despair. Instead of feeling comfort, he is angered as his brow furrows and his mouth tightens up. “How can this girl say she understands what I have and am going through? She has not walked down the road I have, nor lived a day, or even a minute for that matter in my shoes!” While she continues to read scripture and share stories of similar situations she has heard of or knows from a distant relative, he sits and grows in irritation and bewilderment as to why she continues. When she has finished she smiles sweetly, pats him on the shoulder and says she is praying for him and walks away. He is left feeling more frustration and thinking how blind she must be to think that she has made any impact on his life.
I hope that this short illustration offers an insightful perspective. Tired and broken hearts know the intent of kindness as you reach out to them. As mentioned in the illustration, please try and understand that sharing a similar sad story is not a source of encouragement to us nor is it uplifting! Cliché’s like, “God never gives us more than we can handle”... This Is Not Biblical! It is quite the contrary actually! God does allow for the un-thinkable, the un-do-able and the un-wanted all at the same time! All the while He stretches you so thin, you feel as though are no more as you hang on by your fingernails and feel as though you are drowning! Then, when you call upon Him... sometimes He is silent and you experience the depths of despair and at the same time know that He has not abandon nor forsaken us!
It is during these fluxes in the trial that we cling to the safety of our home. We pull the blinds down, turn off the ringers and muffle the dog and kids as a knock sounds at the front door. It is here that we reach out only to those we know have walked or are walking in the midst of a storm. Why, a common bond and nothing more. Not exact in trial, as God has given us each our own unique hand picked one, but a common bond does exists and provides comfort in only the way a suffering saint can offer. Crying is easier with another who suffers, allowing ourselves to laugh with another who suffers is easier because we know that it is not a sign of dismissing our trial nor does it say that we are all better now, but that it is a release, for but a moment with one that understands our sometimes demented humor. Confiding in another that suffers also offers a support that can not be described. There are so many emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions that we go through as we try and stay above the water that only a suffering saint once again can truly respond with, “I understand”.
I know your hearts ache for those close to you enduring storms of all kinds, so I wanted to offer a few important points to reflect on to prepare your hearts as you talk with them.
* Words are wonderful, but please remember it is important to understand that you can not fix trials with them. Only God can provide what His child needs for their weary soul. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows”.
* The simple words, “I love you”, “I am praying for you” or “I am so sorry, I know you’re hurting” offer so much more than you could imagine! Proverbs 15:23 “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!” Ecclesiastes 10:12 "Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.” Proverbs 16:24 "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
* To Love a broken heart through their trial is following Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Notice this verse does not contain a time limit!! Please be sensitive in that all grieve and handle hardships differently. Some bounce back quickly & others are slow to heal! Ask yourself if you can really commit to Galatians 6:2. With a death the 1st year is the hardest on the soul and every holiday makes it that much harder. Can you offer to commit to pray for them for a year? Remember to send a note in the mail, these are so uplifting and usually come at just the right time!
I feel as though I could go on and on, but do not want to overwhelm. It is my heart to give a brief insight into “a different world” of the suffering soul. I pray I have not offended any readers... this was not the purpose of this post. I also pray that if you are on the outside looking in, that this would be received well. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."