I have a friend. Scratch that. I have a BEST friend. Wait. Scratch that, too. I have a friend who might as well be my sister, and that’s how I usually refer to her. Actually, since we’ve known each other practically since birth, she’s almost like my TWIN sister! I’m pushing it, I know…I just wanted everyone to understand how important Lori is to me.
I could go on and on about her great qualities, but there is one that I am particularly fond of, as of late.
Every time something bad or painful ever happened to me, Lori never had anything to say. “What?, you say?” “She never said anything??? Some friend!” That’s exactly what made her one. Most messes I found myself in, she had never experienced. So, if she pretended she knew, and spoke out of some obligation to fill the void silence brings, we both would know that it was just that. Words to substitute awkwardness.
Instead, “I don’t know what to say”, was all she said. Then, she’d sit next to me and hold my hand, or hug me for a thousand years while I cried.
I’m not gonna lie. There were times I wished she’d had SOMETHING say. But in retrospect, if it wasn’t real or really helpful, I’m sure I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it.
“Just be grateful for what you STILL have.”
“It could be worse.”
“God has a plan.”
“Maybe God knew you weren’t ready.”
Those are all examples of words we have ALL heard many, many times. The thing about them is that most of them are always true. But, is it helpful?
Not so much. These are all things we already know! Occasionally, when they’re said because you don’t know what else to say, they actually cause more harm than good. What I mean by that is, sometimes those catch phrases just make people feel guilty for feeling anything but gratitude for the yucky circumstances they find themselves in. While we should all strive to live grateful lives, we are ALSO supposed to live HONEST, TRANSPARENT lives. And honestly, we all have rough days.
Think about it. Job’s friends sat with him for a whole week before uttering a sound to him about all that he had lost. And when they stopped being silent was about the time their words started getting them into trouble! And that leads me to my favorite verse in the Bible: Job 13:5
Oh, if only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.
That’s a biblical equivalent for the phrase, “Shut up!” (Finding things like that is a secret little joy of mine.;) )
Now, I know this might come off as sounding harsh or ungrateful, and I certainly don’t intend to hurt anyone. And I’m also aware that many of those things are just so tempting to say….because you desperately want to say SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to lessen your friend’s pain. But, maybe you can only see the down side of those words after walking down a road or two, marked with some kind of loss.
Basically, the point of writing this is to change the way we approach people who are suffering. Words are great, if someone asks for them, and if they are CLEARLY what God instructed you to say. But personally, I see great wisdom in silence.
If you have any other tips for friends to be “better” friends, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you!!
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.