Sometimes the best gift you can give a loved one or a friend is not a shot of “It will be ok” but instead a dose of these four consoling words.
We sat there over lunch, exchanging updates and stories, laughing and giggling. I needed those two-plus hours with that friend like I needed that meal. It was sustenance for my soul.
We got through with all the “this and that” and she looked at me and asked, “So how are you really?”
She had heard my voice crack when I asked God’s blessing on our lunch and our time moments earlier. She knew the answer even before she asked the question. She didn’t ask for information; she asked to give me the opportunity to hear myself describe what I couldn’t fully wrap my head around.
[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5” accent=”false”]The most consoling words she could have said …[/x_custom_headline]
In the grand scheme of life, what I’m struggling with is nothing. It’s not a tragedy. It’s not a real loss. It’s a season of change placed on top of years of change and stress, laced with a few trials. Everyone has burdens to bear.
It’s called life. But as I described life to this dear friend, disclosing things I hadn’t told another soul beside my mother and my husband, my voice cracked again. Stupid voice. Get it together, I thought. It’s no big thing. I even said to her, “I don’t know why I’m choking up.”
And then she said it. The one phrase that is one of the sweetest gifts a friend can give to another. The consoling words I needed to hear. She looked at me as I wiped the corner of my eye with the scratchy napkin and she said, “This is a lot.”
This. Is. A. lot.
She went on to reflect on much of what I had described, adding words to my unexpressed thoughts and breaking down my bravado. She made it safe for me to feel sad, and let me know she heard what I never said.
This. Is. A. lot.
Sometimes we must release the pretense of strength so we can fully embrace the grace needed for our weakness. This isn’t easy and it’s not always accepted in Christian circles. We want to be good witnesses and we want our testimony to proclaim God’s faithfulness. I get that. But when we’re so quick to slap a scripture or Christian-ease band aid on our problems ~ or someone else’s ~ we circumvent the process. Feeling the pain is part of experiencing the healer’s touch and His sufficiency.
This. Is. A. lot.
I’m not suggesting we should all go around crying over every little thing. And if you look around this blog, you’ll see affirmation after declaration of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. More than one post is filled with my signature statements: “Faith chooses to survive what it cannot explain” and “God is good to you even when it doesn’t feel good to you.”
But here’s another strongly held belief: Sometimes we must be a shoulder of empathy before we can be the voice of truth.
Sometimes the best gift you can give a loved one or a friend is not a shot of “It will be ok” but instead a dose of …
This. Is. A. Lot.
In the process of sorting, purging, and packing, I came across a stack of cards I received when I left a job a few years ago. I had risen through the ranks quickly and accomplished much during my time in that leadership position. But when I left, the sentiments on those cards weren’t describing the new department I created or the various improved metrics. Card after card thanked me for listening or for simply being kind in the middle of a cutthroat office. And then there was this one line:
“You were the ONLY one who ever looked at me and said, ‘I had no idea how much responsibility you were shouldering.’ You’ll never know how much it meant to hear you say those words.”
This. Is. A Lot.
When all is said and done, people remember how we made them feel long after they’ve forgotten our words and deeds.
Connection opens the door to counsel and ministering is different from preaching.
Knowing the difference is called wisdom and picking the time for each is called discernment.
Try this simple phrase next time you’re the one on the other side of the table and see how your friend responds. These consoling words may be the best gift you give that day.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Connection opens the door to counsel and ministering is different from preaching.” quote=”Connection opens the door to counsel and ministering is different from preaching.”]
[clickToTweet tweet=”People remember how we made them feel long after they’ve forgotten our words and deeds” quote=”When all is said and done, people remember how we made them feel long after they’ve forgotten our words and deeds.”]
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