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People Often Gloss Over Our Wounds

The statement in this title of this blog is true, but it is also very sad.

The statement in the graphic is also too easily thrown out (even with the best of intentions.)

Why do friends gloss over our pain? Why do they urge us to shrug off the problem, and think happy thoughts?

The truth is that your friends are troubled by your sadness, your grief, your woundedness. They ARE, and they want to help. But they probably feel awkward, or inadequate to help you in a meaningful way. So their instinctive response is to try to lift you out of that state of mind. If you can just not be sad, then they don't have to face their awkwardness.

Unfortunately, we all do that! We want the wounds of our loved ones to go away. We want our own pain to go away, too — the pain we have because of theirs. So (again, with the best of intentions!) we suggest ideas that we hope will make our friends feel better.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of this when he says, “You can't heal a wound by saying it is not there.”

In Scripture, Paul says: “Weep with those who weep.” He advises us to join with those who weep.

Consider this pleasant mental picture: Two friends, tears running down the cheeks of both, are standing together, both feeling the pain of the one. There are no easy answers; there is no denying of the pain; there is no attempt to offer advice. But there is an embrace, a listening ear, a place to rest, and an infusion of hope, peace and love.

That is the response you need to make in such a situation. And in that way, Jesus stands there, too. Jesus never fails. When it happens to one of us, it happens to him. This is an awesome reality!

And, like Jesus, a true friend cries out on our behalf, instead of standing apart from our pain. In her prayers, the friend puts into the words the other person’s plight. She speaks to God of the conflicts that she knows are squeezing her friend. Rare, good friends weep with us. Like the example above of the two friends, the one is present with the other. A true friend shares her heart, her love, concern, care, and especially, her time.

Friends who don’t understand this gloss over our wounds. When a brother dies, his neighbor typically says something like, “Isn’t it wonderful? He is with the Lord.”

That may, indeed, be true, but it is an unhelpful way to comfort. Those words, intended to help, do not make the man feel better. Conventional consolation cannot fix true sorrow. Seldom do our words help much.

What help and heals most is being there and weeping with those who weep.


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