As a Christian, I sometimes find it challenging to find the balance between using words that sound phony or using words that show sincerity and saying what I think a friend wants to hear rather than the true words of Christ’s love that I know to be true. Sincerity versus judgement, being fake versus being real can be difficult for all of us at one time or another.
Balancing my words with the human side of my emotions can make a difference in how those words are perceived by others. That perception can bring one closer to God or push them further away, just by how my words are heard. That is an awesome responsibility for me and each of us when speaking to our children, grandchildren, spouse, relative, friend, and especially a stranger.
This very morning after working a 12 hour shift all I really wanted to do was go home. Instead, there in the lobby of the hospital sat a young woman, alone, and in tears. What to do, what does God want me to do? I stopped, touched her shoulder, and asked if she was okay. Simple words so far but my mind was already thinking ahead.
Her story came out in loud sobs, yelling, and with over whelming sadness. She had been called away from her job to our emergency room to be told that her 26-year-old husband had passed away in his sleep from a seizure. She wanted to know what she would tell her 3-year-old. She wanted to know if God was real. She wanted to know if the guilt she felt for not wanting to go to the chapel would be forgiven.
I felt ill equipped, humbled, and if I am honest with myself, slightly sorry that I stopped to check on her. How do I balance my words in the presence of a stranger in her sorrow knowing full well that what I say may make the difference in her life? Who am I to offer any words?
- I silently prayed for guidance with every sentence.
- I only spoke the truths as I know them today. As I grow in Christ my answers may change with the next encounter with a stranger but today I spoke as a child of a loving God with the knowledge that God will be with her.
- I said I was sorry for her loss. Simple, true, and sincere.
- I told her that God knows her heart whether she is in the chair in the lobby or in the chapel or in her car or in her home alone.
- I told her to take it hour by hour, day by day.
- I told her to hug her baby.
- I told her to let the tears flow.
- I told her to never stop believing that God is by her side.
- I told her I didn’t have any answers to why this happened to her. I told her God would make something sweet out of this if she would let him and that she needs to lean on Him.
Did my words sound sincere and true? I hope they did. I couldn’t erase what happened today nor could I take away her pain. As a parent, I can’t always erase what my children are going through either, nor take away their pain. But I can balance my words, acknowledge and validate the feelings of others, and offer a silent presence if only for a moment.
I find that if I am sincere, offer few words, and less judgement I become the arms of Christ. And that will help balance my words and how they are perceived with my children and grandchildren or those strangers that God places in my path. How do you balance your words when ministering to others?