This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, and I know it has also happened to you:
Someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them. So, you don’t really say much of anything.
When we’re at a loss for words because of the hurt another is experiencing and we choose to say nothing, we fall short of providing hope to them. The simplicity of a few words to tell your friend or acquaintance they are being thought of can lift them up. Saying nothing does nothing.
After going through my own devastating hurts in the last few years, I’ve experienced this from the other side, also. There were many times I’d run into someone who knew bits of what I was going through, but they’d skirt the topic, avoid me completely, or just stand there acting like nothing ever happened. I’m sure most never meant to be hurtful in their avoidance, but doing so did not help me at all. The people who offered me a kind word or thought were the ones who impacted me. They were the ones who offered me a piece of hope.
Yes, there are times when words are not necessary. You’ll know what that looks like with your closest friends. But, truly, how many times have you walked away from a co-worker, an acquaintance, a family member or a friend in pain and not said anything? I’m guessing when you did, your next few moments were thinking about YOURSELF and how YOU didn’t know what to say.
“Why didn’t I say something?”
“What should I have said?”
“Wow, I fumbled through that conversation.”
“I am so glad that isn’t me.”
“I am so glad my life isn’t that messed up.”
In these circumstances, why do we often think first of ourselves instead of thinking about the person who needs a glimmer of hope in their life? We, instead, have the choice and the chance to genuinely think about them and find a way to help them through their trial.
So back up.
Back up to the approach where someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them.
This time, here’s what to say:
“I’m thinking of you.”
“I’m praying for you.”
“You have been in my thoughts.”
“I will continue to hold you in prayer.”
“I can’t begin to understand all you are going through, but, please know, I will pray for you.”
Do you see the hope? Do you see how you are still using the word “I,” but the focus has become about them and what YOU can do FOR them. Prayer does this.
When we lift others up in prayer, their trials begin to have hope. The amazing thing about this, too, is that when we have a chance to offer hope to others, we, in turn, feel more hopeful.