The other day a little cliché showed up on one of my feeds:
“The same boiling water
that softens the potato
hardens the egg.
It’s about what
you’re made of,
not the circumstances.”
I took a screen shot of it, went to a photo editing app, and in big red letters, wrote “OH, SHUT UP!” over the entire saying. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying that was. Normally, I dislike the words “shut up”, but I had been extremely ill for months and was mourning the loss of my good health. The last thing I needed was a perky poem telling me to look on the bright side.
There are times when we don’t want to be cheered up. We don’t want to be told that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. We don’t care that sunny days are just around the corner or that God always opens a window. There are days when we’re tempted to jump through that open window!
Some phases of life are so painful that no perky cliché can pull us out of the murky depths we’ve sunk to. In fact, we WANT to wallow in the depths for a while. We NEED to. There is nothing like a good pity-party to work through some grief.
It is only after we’ve laid limply at the bottom for a time that we are even remotely open to the fact that brighter days are possible. Then, we can perhaps appreciate the lovely motivational sayings that are out there. I particularly love to be reminded of scripture verses that uplift and tell me I am loved. There is no encouragement like that which is found in the Bible.
But, before we share “encouragement” with those who are hurting, we need to check in and listen to their hearts. Are they ready to be cheered up? Or, is their pain so deep that they just need to be held while they lay at the bottom for awhile? Sometimes, trying to cheer someone up belittles their sorrow and is designed to make US feel better, not them.
Now, when I know a loved one is in pain, I offer them no clichés. I don’t promise them that things will get better (because sometimes it doesn’t). I listen and I hug and I pray. I pray for them to be ready to make their way back into the light. And, I know that no poster can make that happen.
Only God can.