When Words Fail Us…

The power of words is undeniable.

Not just the words spoken, but how they are spoken.

I got to thinking about the quick and easy “canned” responses given in struggled situations, simply because we are caught off guard don’t know what else to say.

Generally spoken with best intent, but serving only to make the person (or situation) feel worse.

Calm down.
Well, at least……
It is what it is.
This is just part of ____ (<— insert a choice you’ve made here)
Maybe it’s a blessing.
You can always try again.
It’s just the season of life.


And while some (if not all) of these things are true, in the moment they don’t generally serve to be helpful.

Or, how about this one: “Yea, but, some day you’re gonna miss this”.

I wanna be honest with you about something: there are things about this “season of life” that I am NOT going to miss.

I am not going to miss the sassy and argumentative mouth that I’m met with nearly every time I speak to my oldest son and the nonstop whining and fit throwing that occupies his <near> every waking moment.

I am not going to miss so many consecutive nights of interrupted sleep that it’s any wonder I haven’t lost my mind because the baby spends half his night awake….EVERY. NIGHT.

I am not going to miss the sneakiness of my daughter who knows all the rules but literally looks around to see if she’s being watched before she knowingly breaks one (and then acts as though she’s been served some sort of horrible injustice when she has to have a consequence).

So, please, stop it with the “you’re gonna miss this”.

Stop it with all the automatic “canned” responses. Please!

Here’s the thing: the person before you is hurting in some sort of way; they are spilling their hearts…and words fail.

I get it. I’ve been there, too.

When words fail us we grasp on to the first thing that comes to mind – and it’s often something that’s been spoken to us previously (and probably wasn’t all that helpful for us in that moment either).

Having been a person who has walked various scenarios of heartbreak and struggle in this life and who has shared her heart in the throes of said struggle only to be met with a comment that feels dismissive (and hurtful) – despite all best intentions – I want to offer a suggestion:

“I’m so sorry. This sucks – there’s just no other way about it. How can I help?”

Simple. Genuine. Validating.

And a few days later: check in again.

“Thinking of you. How are you? How can I help?”

Simple. Genuine. Thoughtful.


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Photo Credit: David Ammerman via Facebook

One Comment

  • Stella

    Very true.. So many times we want to give the right responses but the words sometimes come out wrong. May God help us such that our words bring life to others.

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