It’s Complicated

Joe surprised me with tickets to the Hits Deep tour at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Sunday. We had an awesome night out worshipping together. One of the artists, Mandisa, shared a story about a friend of hers who was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant. She wrote the song Overcomer for her friend during the fight of her life. Her friend gave birth to a healthy baby boy but only got to spend about a year with him before cancer took her away.

Mandisa explained that after her friend passed, her faith was shaken. She went into a deep pit of despair and she pushed people away.

“I was miserable but I was comfortable,” she said.

I identified so much with that statement. I’ve been miserable but comfortable. Misery is what I got used to. Misery was easier than trying to be happy. Trying to be happy requires doing things that made me uncomfortable and anxious. I know I don’t want to live this way forever and I think I’m doing better than I was. I think it’s important to take each day as it comes and do the best you can. But we don’t always get to choose. I woke up terribly sad this morning because I’m even dreaming about the stressors in my life that make me sad. I dreamt about it all night so then I woke up sad. I can’t escape it.

I think that sometimes people look at people who are hurting and miserable and wonder why they don’t try harder to get out of it.

  1. Physically it may be very hard. Depression is physical as well as emotional.
  2. We are comfortable. Ever though it hurts, it’s easier to stay where we are than to push through. Pushing through can cause more pain.

I stumbled upon an article that ties well into this. You can read the full article here but here’s a few things that stuck with me.

“I’ve told suffering friends about how other people are going through more painful trials.”

This is hurtful and not helpful. It takes away from my pain to tell me that it could be worse. I’m well aware it can always be worse. It does not come across as caring. 

“Job wanted his comforters to stop talking. Stop blowing hot air. Stop criticizing and judging. He longed for them to listen. To encourage him. To think about what he needed in his grief.”

Often we need people to be quiet and just listen. I’ve gotten so much better at this. I ask what is needed. Then, I simply listen.

“Besides, unsolicited advice is criticism.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given unsolicited advice. I’ve never thought of it as being criticism but it’s true. When someone gives their opinion when it wasn’t asked for, it can feel as if it’s criticism. I would agree. I have gotten a lot of well-meaning advice from people but it hurt. I didn’t feel as supported because they were offering solutions that didn’t matter at the time.

“True, I may not be healing as fast as they have. Perhaps they are trusting God more than I am. Maybe their situations are harder than mine. But when people minimize my struggle, it magnifies my pain. I feel judged. Misunderstood. It also makes me want to explain my miseries in excruciating detail, to get corroboration that my situation is difficult.”

Do not compare my situation to someone else’s. Everyone handles grief and pain differently. It isn’t fair to compare. Magnifying my pain is not what I need. This is why people who are going through tough stuff pull away. The people around them don’t offer the support they need or they make the situation worse. So it’s easier to be alone than to allow others in that could hurt you. People who are hurting shouldn’t have to convince you that their hurt is real. Don’t question their pain.

“Instead, let’s sit with our friends. Cry with them. Support them as they grieve. They need grace to heal.”

Sit, listen,  and cry. Those people in your life that are hurting need you. They don’t need you to “fix” them or their problems. The likelihood that you can offer a solution or something helpful that they haven’t already thought of is slim. But if they ask, offer what you can. More than anything, they just need you to be there.

 

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