Golly, I love you all. Really & truly.
But I gotta be honest. You say things sometimes that make me want to SCREAM. Or, at the very least, flee to the nearest forest.
It’s not that you’re cruel or ill-intentioned. In fact, you have the best of intentions! You want to make sure that I’m maintaining a godly perspective. That I continue to focus on Christ.
But I swear to you the minute these words or verse pop out of your mouth, I WILL RUN FROM YOU. At least internally, if not externally.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Jeremiah 29:11: “God knows the plans He has for you.”
PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE THIS TO ME. I get it. Yes. God has plans. But when you say that verse to me, what I hear is, “Wow. You really don’t trust God. Don’t you know that He’s got this?”
And in my unholy parts, I want to respond: “Gee, you’re right. Immediately all of my worries have ceased. Glad you’ve never felt this way and always been holy enough to handle all uncertainty. CHRISTIANITY WIN for you.”
Also, THIS WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE WHO WERE IN EXILE. It doesn’t mean there aren’t applications for this in our lives, but I think this verse is taken WAY out of context most of the times it’s being used.
Philippians 4:13: “You can do all things through Christ.”
AHHH NO. NO, DO NOT QUOTE THIS TO ME. Again, theologically-speaking, yes, I am capable of living in contentment regardless of what my circumstances are — which is what Paul was referring to.
But I’ve heard Christians use this verse for everything from winning a sporting event to justifying unhealthy boundaries that are bound to end up in spiritual burnout. So NO. Just no.
Also, just because I CAN do all things through Christ doesn’t mean I won’t STRUGGLE to do all things through Christ. I’M NOT A ROBOT HERE, FOLKS.
Isaiah 55:8-9: My thoughts are not your thoughts.”
STAHHPPPP. Yes, true. God’s thoughts aren’t mine. He is wise. I can trust His decisions to lead to my holiness.
But sometimes life just feels like it stinks.
When I’m down in the dumps because I don’t understand what He is doing, I don’t need someone to quote this at me as if I’m an imbecile. I KNOW it. I’m just wrestling it into my heart — which is why I brought it up in the first place.
Maybe a better verse to quote at me would be Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief!”
Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.”
I’m sick to death of this and the crazy way Proverbs 31 has been twisted into a never-ending to-do list for women. (Side note: This take on it is *way* more helpful and less guilt-inducing.)
But honestly, I’ve seen this verse and other verses (1 Peter 3:3-4, anyone?) used almost an excuse to have a poor self-image or to hide the beauty God has given us as woman.
It’s almost as if it becomes a reverse-engineering process wherein it’s NOT a good thing to be beautiful or to want to be beautiful or to recognize you’re beautiful.
And yet when I read these Scriptures, I see the point being that the foundation of our beauty should be internal, not external. So we should be spending just as much (or more) time cultivating inner beauty as we do outward beauty.
It’s a perspective thing, not a “don’t be outwardly beautiful” thing.
In other words, IT IS OKAY TO WANT TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND TO TRY TO BE BEAUTIFUL. And (side note) you are beautiful, whether you realize it or not.
“I’ll pray for you.”
We offer this up like it’s part and parcel of our pleasantries. But we MUST stop saying it if we don’t mean it. Because really, it’s meaningless (and frankly, a broken promise) if we don’t follow through.
If you know you’re going to forget, jot it down in the Notes app on your phone — or pray with them right away or immediately after the conversation.
We shouldn’t use prayer as a space filler. It’s serious business and deserves to be handled with respect and reverence — not as a glib remark when we don’t know what to say.
Romans 8:28: “We know in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
For the love of all that is good in this world, please, PLEASE, do not say this to someone who is hurting. All it does — at least, in my experience — is make everything worse.
Because when you’re in immense darkness, pain or grief, you can’t see how anything will ever be good again.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be. God certainly can and does redeem our most painful moments.
But SAYING this to someone who is hurting can feel like a slap in the face to them. It’s just not helpful 99.9% of the time.
“God’s in control.”
Don’t I know it? Because I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this situation or circumstance! Unfortunately, just because I know that doesn’t mean my feelings and attitude are magically on board or that I’m not seriously wrestling with that knowledge.
When people have said this to me in the past, all I hear is them brushing off my problem and acting as if it doesn’t matter. Or worse, I feel as if they’re trying to end the conversation because it’s a downer, and they don’t know what to say.
Maybe it’s just me — But I don’t think so.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever felt this way when these verses — or others — have been shared with them.
Because like I said, the issue isn’t typically that the verses or thoughts being shared are incorrect. It’s more the timing of it all and the way it can invalidate the pain or the struggle of your fellow brother or sister.
Look, I get it. I struggle with this just like you do. I fight this insane urge to FILL THE SILENCE or BALANCE OUT THE EMOTIONS when someone is sharing serious issues.
But we’ve got to do better by each other. We have to accept that sometimes there just isn’t anything to say. That sometimes silence (and possibly, a hug) is the best response.
We need to give people the space to feel and process through the emotions that are part of the broken lives we lead here on earth. Most of the time, people just need someone to listen to them, validate their pain and walk with them through it.
Friend, it’s OK to not have all of the answers. Even God doesn’t always respond with an answer. Did He tell Job exactly why He allowed the suffering? Does Psalm 34:18 say that God has a rational answer for the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit?
It says He is close to them and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Why can’t we learn to do the same?
Let go of the need to justify God and His actions. Let go of the need to fill the silence. Let go of the need to provide pat responses.
Lean into not having all of the answers and walking through the journey with your friends anyway.