Engage, people

“The thing that destroys a good many of us as Christians is our inability to relate to each other in a warm, honest, compassionate sort of way. Even with those to whom I was close, I failed in this endeavor. I was so busy being a ‘doing’ Christian that I’d forgotten what God called me to be.” ~from The Frog Who Never Became a Prince by James Sullivan

I spoke with someone recently who lost her son to suicide 25 agonizing years ago. She still grieves. She’s still stuck in deep pain. She still wants to speak of him. She still hopes someone will listen. Accept her. Be there for her. Pull her in with a hug. And listen again; lots and lots of listening.

There are no answers required. No special skills. No training classes. Just have the heart God gave you and put the hurting person’s needs before your own. Engage. Tune in. Make eye contact. Really listen. And it’s not trite but true to repeat the familiar phrase, “do what Jesus would do”.

We understand more than you do if you have not lost a child. All death hurts, but death by suicide or murder hurts down deep where shame, remorse, and guilt live. The devil knows how to heap tons of more pain on aching hearts and he will use any means possible to take us down further in our grief. If guilt is being “crammed down your throat”, don’t swallow. In fact, spit it back out and tell the enemy to seek cover. Fire missiles of  God’s Truth at him. He knows the Bible well enough to misquote it. But I doubt he enjoys having it quoted to him.

So many have crossed my path who are not able to grieve with those who surround them, be it family member, friend, neighbor, or casual acquaintance. No matter the circumstances of loss it is hurtful and the grieving try to express the pain it causes them. Some reply with inappropriate comments. They live in the real world, but have not educated themselves in what “to say”, so they say hurtful things.

The person I met recently has heard plenty of unkind words and still hears them to this day. She is a prime example of not being able to move forward. She’s stuck. She’s full of hurt and pain. Perhaps this describes you. No matter how long it’s been, it still hurts. I know this pain. I live this pain. There is no getting over it though one does move on because the calendar shows that we do. It just doesn’t feel like we have.

I will not list all the hurtful phrases I have heard first hand or have been told by others. This is not the time or the blog today. However I will repeat one common phrase that appears in a variety of words that go something like this: “Just get over it. Move on. Live your life”. Well, maybe that’s three, but they seem to flow together. Perhaps we don’t have the time? Or the interest? Or it’s hurtful and we need to escape?

What I have written above, describes me. Before I lost my son that is, and I pray for strength to never do it again. I don’t like funerals (who does?) but there are times when one needs to go. I’d go, but with a great deal of discomfort. All I could think about was myself ~ I shouldn’t have come, I don’t want to burst into tears and be stared at, I don’t want to look in an open casket ~ I, I, I. This is a delicate topic and may not be for the faint of heart, but let’s get real. Our world is full of heartache and death. There is no way to avoid it. If it has not knocked on your door or your neighbors, it likely will before Jesus comes. Don’t you agree?

I have no pat answers. But there is good news. He’s Good News! The God of heaven is the only Good News in all the world.


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