Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Not To Do

So, our family is coming fresh out of crisis. If you haven't been tracking, just look around this blog about 2 minutes and you'll find our story. I've learned a ton about grace, forgiveness, and real heart-work.  But I've also learned a lot about ministering to others while they're hurting. While we were broken, we had people show us the tangible love of God in a very real way. Being on the receiving end was humbling and eye-opening.  And it's taught me a few things about the next time I see a friend who's hurting. Now I know what not to do...

Don't ask for details
I don't think I'm unlike other women who only offer what they want to about their personal life. (Sometimes I wondered in my head what would happen if I really told the kid packing my groceries how my day was going...) There are certain boundaries you have to have to stay sane in a crisis, only sharing with those closest to you the details. Thankfully, almost everyone I came into contact with honored this. (There was only one person who asked for more details under the guise of a prayer request.) Instead of asking for details of the situation, ask how you can pray.  

Don't offer trite phrases
They're in a better place, God has a plan for everything, I understand what you're going through, you'll only be stronger for going through this, and on and on. A simple "I have no idea what to say to you right now" and a hug goes way farther than a sermonette on God's sovereignty. People who sat with me in the grief, let me cry, or brought me out for a girls night did more for me than any pithy statements with no real compassion behind them. People can tell the difference.

Don't say "Just call me."  
Along those lines, "I'm here for you - whatever you need. Just let me know." I'm sure you mean it, but it puts on a ton of pressure. With crisis comes real need. Dinners still need to be made. Bathrooms still need to be clean. Laundry still needs to be done. Life doesn't stop when there's pain. Offer tangible help. Take the pressure off and offer specifics (dinner on Tuesday, laundry service for a week, or a play-date with your kids). Even better, arrange for a broker. I actually had a sweet friend who worked as point person for our family. I communicated my needs (or she just knew) and she arranged for childcare, dinners, and other miscellaneous needs with those offering to help.

Don't assume it's over
Grief is not time-limited. Healing happens gradually and there's no time table or guide for the process. Anniversaries of loss are hard. Being there for the long-haul is treasured.

When we were going through our stuff, I'm thankful we had community around us who did this well. I'm even thankful we had those around us who didn't. It's brought a new perspective to those around me going through their own stuff. And who of us doesn't know someone going through a rough season? Let's carry each other's burdens. Let's get messy with each other in life.

Let's live in real community that doesn't shy away from the hard stuff but walks together through the brokenness. This is the place where real friendship is built.
I need someone who believes that the sun will rise again but who does not fear my darkness. Someone who can point out the rocks in my way without making me a child by carrying me. Someone who can stand in thunder and watch the lightning and believe in a rainbow.  Fr Joe Mahoney


  1. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com

    1. Hi Heather! Feel free to email me directly! Contact info found on my "More about me" tab :)


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