I’ve taken some notes along my 40+ years of life. Experience is our best teacher and there is much to be learned from one another. To borrow an expression, in my own life I’ve often found the landmines by stepping on them. So with that in mind, here are some a few of the valuable lessons I’ve gleaned along the way specifically around what I should or shouldn’t say. Hopefully these will be helpful to you, saving you from some unnecessary detonations and injuries! Here goes:
Don’t say, “I know what you’re going through,” if you don’t. Instead, do admit, “I don’t know – I’ve never experienced where you’re at just now. But I care about you and I’ll walk with you.”
Don’t say, “How far along are you?” Under. Any. Circumstances. Unless you’ve seen ultrasound pictures or a positive pregnancy test with you own eyes, never assume on this one. Trust me.
In the face of tragedy or death don’t say, “This is God’s will for you,” or, “God needed another angel in his choir.” In that moment those words seldom if ever soothe. In fact, if people are not yet ready in the space to receive them, it can burn like acid and can leave scars for years to come. Do bring comfort and encouragement and understanding making yourself available to a grieving friend.
Don’t say, “I’ll pray for you,” if you have no intentions of doing so. Because you’re actually lying to them and to God. Instead do say, “Could I pray for you right now?” or having already prayed for someone, let them know you have.
When you’re stuck in that spot of not knowing what to say, just don’t say anything. As uncomfortable as silence can feel to us, sometimes it’s the most loving act of all. Do quietly support and listen.