Points to Ponder: You Don't Have to Fix It
Points to Ponder
You Don't Have to Fix It
You don't have to fix it. You don't have to have the right answer. You don't have to know what to say. The only thing you have to do is care.
If you are any kind of a good friend, a caring neighbor, an empathetic acquaintance, you will have people in your life who will come to you to talk, to "unload." Sometimes a person you know has suffered a tragic loss and your thought may be, "I don't know what to say." You don't have to say anything.
The mystery of tragedy and death, the troubles of life and relationships, and the complexities of being a human in the middle of circumstances difficult to comprehend, can leave a person hurting and confused. It's a pain which no medication can touch (other than to numb your senses). The pain and the craving for understanding, for how to cope with it, can drive a person to think and to say things that shock loved ones and may not actually represent what the person really believes.
When Job was suffering with tremendous losses of children and wealth, and then health, he had three friends who offered no compassion. They engaged in theological debates with Job over his situation. They countered his pleas and complaints with their pious reasoning and religious perspectives on his troubles. Job laments about his feeling of helplessness. He's depressed: "What strength do I have, that I should hope? And what is my end, that I should prolong my life? Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh bronze? Is my help not within me? And is success driven from me?" (Job 6:11-13 NKJV)
Have you ever tried to talk out your troubles to a friend, only to have that person correct you, telling you how you should have said it? Because you are friends you know the person understood the message your words conveyed; but they want to edit your remarks. Then you have to explain again what you meant because your friend is focused on semantics. Some feelings don't edit well. You count on good friends to work with it in your language. Then there are those who "blow off" your complaint with, "you shouldn't feel that way." Or they'll argue with you by making comparisons: "well, if you think that was bad, look at what happened to me."
Sometimes you just need a hearing. Not that you want the listener--or anybody else--to fix it; you just need to get it out. Sometimes you need to hear it said so you can process the situation. Sometimes you just need to express your feelings (not be confused with facts); because even though those feelings don't jive with the facts, those feelings are valid because they exist. You have to deal with how you feel.
"To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty." (Job 6:14 NKJV)
Sometimes you may feel mad at God--you questions or doubt. "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1). Those words were spoken by Jesus on the cross, but were written by David, the man whom the Bible says was "after God's own heart."
It's healthy to vent to a trusted friend, one who will not be shocked; one who will not try to defend God and talk you into your senses. Even if they can argue their point rightly, it's not helpful.
"How forceful are right words! But what does your arguing prove? Do you intend to rebuke my words, and the speeches of a desperate one, which are as wind?" (Job 6:25-26 NKJV)
In desperation and pain, we cry. That's okay. Your speech may be "as the wind," just blowing off steam. It's important to have brothers and sisters in the faith to whom you can be accountable, cry out, and even fall against. Even Jesus admitted the need for companionship during His darkest hour before His arrest (Mark 14:32-42). Jesus being fully God and fully human, He knew the limitations and needs of the human body and human spirit. Be aware of yours as well.
With all of this being said, remember what it means to be a friend when someone comes to you to "vent," or when you are holding the crying soul who has just lost a loved one. Remember your place when a frustrated, overwhelmed person is expressing strong feelings through statements you know aren't "correct." Before a wound can heal, be it physical or spiritual, the poison has to be cleared out. An embrace, a strong shoulder, an encouraging word is all you need to have when it's your turn to console.
"Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad." (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV)
The good word may not be what you say. It first must be who you are in Christ. That speaks more clearly than anything you'll ever say.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.