"I don't understand what you are going through." "I can't even imagine what you must be good through." "I have no idea what it must feel like to be in the situation you are in."
Those are stupid, silly and blatantly ridiculous cop out statements that MUST BE AVOIDED!!!!
Yes, I am deadly serious in saying that.These statements have got to go!
I know you can't understand what I am going through. Here is the dirty little secret: Nobody needs to understand what the other person is going through in order to be an encourager to the suffering person. Are good counselors good counselors because they have experienced everything their clients have gone through? Not a chance! Good counselors are people who are gifted and are willing to work at trying their best to enter into the client's world and then seeking out the best coping strategies.
Why do our friends use these cop out statements? I have some theories.
They are not willing to take time to try to enter into our world. They are focused on their world, and their world is peachy great, and if you and I would just adopt their ways of doing things, then our world would also be peaches and cream. Here is the irony of it all. These are the people who say they cannot understand what you and I are going through, but they are at the front of the line when it comes to giving you and me advice.These are the people who have a book for you and me to read, or a CD to listen to, or a TV program to watch, or a retreat to attend, or anything for us to do as long as they don't have to be involved, and if we will just follow what is written in that book, or listen to the CD 24/7, we will get our lives together just as their life is together.
That saddens me, and quite frankly, I find zero encouragement from such people.
Another theory I have for why people use cop outs is because they are to afraid to try to understand our scary world of cancer, death, chemo and vomiting. They are too fearful they may not cope with the information you and I give them. These people are turtles. Just let me climb into my well protected world, and you who are struggling, STAY AWAY from me.
How sad. Recently a friend confided in me about the strange absence of his best friends during a really difficult time. "Where are my friends?" he was asking. They are turtles. Retreating into their fortified walls of security far away from you and me and our problems. Turtles turtle because they don't know what to say. Well, they have already acknowledged that they actually have nothing to say since they can't anyhow identify with you and me, so they are correct- they don't know what to say. The first positive sign.
I have a wonderful friend in whom over the years I have often confided in. This person does not always understand what I am going through, but that's alright. This person is such an encourager because she/he goes to make the effort to try his/her best to understand my world I live in. She/he asks pertinent questions about me. He/she is slow to share from her/his own life. But the key is that this person tries desperately to understand my situation. I always leave his/her home feeling much better than when I came.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things, as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15
Thanks for your prayers. I really cherish them all.