There is a little seven-word sentence that I would like to talk about today. It’s actually grown to be my least favorite sentence of all time. And I think when I tell you, you’ll probably agree…especially if you’ve encountered tragedy, trauma, or a huge lifetime adjustment. So, here it is: “If you need ANYTHING, please call me!”
Are you cringing on the inside?
Directly after having my first massive stroke, I experienced a HUGE outpouring of love to me and my family. Meals, visits, daily help with my two very small children. It was incredible, and I will never be able to thank them enough for what they did in those early stages.
Then, I’m not sure what happened. Maybe people were under the conception that I would be or was getting better and could handle all of these things now, or maybe the distance it took to get to our house we lived in at the time was too great. Or maybe people were just tired and had plenty of their own troubles and challenges to deal with. And all of those are valid reasons, in my opinion. But whatever the reason, for about a year, I know my husband and I felt very alone in dealing with this new life we now had, and we both knew it was never going to go away completely. With the exception of a few amazing people, most stopped calling…stopped giving…stopped helping.
Please understand. I am not at ALL bitter. Because we currently have very special people we can count on to help us when we need it, and because I had to let those feelings go if I was going to have a life of joy and peace.
I know my pastor can’t stand those seven little words, either. And he’s been hearing them in the ministry for about 16 years! Actually, he’s probably immune to the sentence after all this time.
The problem with saying those words is that you have pretty much made a vow. The definition of the word “vow” includes words such as oath, promise, covenant, and commitment. And you can tell me you weren’t making a vow, or even a commitment, but when you said those words, you MADE a commitment! The bible has lots of things to say about making vows or commitments, and let’s just say, God takes it seriously!
33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
If you need more proof, read about a man named Jephtha in Judges 11. That’s a doozy.
Look, I know I have said those same words myself so many times. Because the person finished telling me this painful story, and then there was this awkward moment when I was supposed to say something. So I simply blurted out those words, sometimes with the intention to carry it out, and sometimes just to say SOMETHING. ANYTHING.
Let’s try to be careful about what we say to people who are in their most vulnerable moments. And don’t blame THEM if they become bitter or resentful when WE are the cause of it!!! And please don’t say, “Well, if they’re bitter, that’s just spiritual immaturity.” Where is OUR spiritual maturity when we make promises we can’t deliver, which the bible tells us is wrong? If we make commitments, let’s do our best, and apologize when we don’t. But more importantly, let’s try to not make promises we realistically can’t keep.
Maybe it was unrealistic for those of us who were promised something to expect to get it, but it is also unfair, and biblically wrong, to make commitments we simply cannot deliver.