Over the past year or so, God has been showing me about the power of words and the importance of being real to yourself and others. Being able to accept hard times in life and being willing to be honest about them and using them to help your brothers and sisters in Christ, even if it makes you look a little less like you got it all together. None of us really does. We need each other.
It started when our second baby was born. I had a hard several months with him being gassy and being difficult to put to sleep. I caught myself constantly being concerned that I might come off as not knowing what I was doing and always having to justify or make a defence for a struggle when asked. I would say things like, “ya he’s gassy today,” but would be sure to add, “but he is not always like this, he is usually pretty good.” I remember hearing myself one day and realized God was telling me it was ok to not be ok all the time. Someone tried to encourage me by saying I was just being optimistic but in my heart I knew there was more to it.
After this I started paying more attention to how I would answer other women and tried to make it a point to be open and honest, encouraging other moms who may have the same struggles, all while trying not to have a complaining pessimistic attitude.
What does the Bible say about encouraging one another? Or ways that words do harm? And how can we find a balance in sharing and being open but without saying too much especially if it involves another person?
USING WORDS FOR GOOD
I think Ephesians 4:29 gives a helpful guide on this. “ Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” When someone shares a struggle with us, we should be willing to share our own experiences with them if it will be helpful to them and build them up, even if it forces us to get out of our comfort zone. Galatians 6:2 commands us “Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We need to be an encouragement and sometimes all that takes is to say “me too.” To let them know that they are not alone and you have been there too. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man hath joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!” You might just say the right thing when they need it most. ☺
HOW WORDS OR LACK OF WORDS DOES HARM
In the same way that letting others know that they are not alone can be a blessing, making people feel like you have it all figured out and can’t relate to them, can be a discouragement. Proverbs 16:19 says “Better to be lowly in spirit with the oppressed than to share in the plunder of the proud.” Thinking back to all my excuses in the past and my defences for my struggles, I realize there was pride in my heart. There is definitely a lot of freedom in admitting and accepting challenges. We also need to remember though that along with sharing with others, it’s important to tell God your heart first and allow Him to give you a proper perspective and comfort for he cares for you more than anyone. ☺
When it comes to sharing personal struggles with others, especially concerning marriage and family, my fear has always been that I would say too much or cause others to get the wrong idea or think negative about a loved one. This has sometimes kept me from sharing with someone whom I could have encouraged. Proverbs 11:13 says “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” God has also shown me that there is a right way and a wrong way to share these things. For example, a couple of summers ago my husband worked a lot of Saturdays. At times it bothered me especially if someone would mention it. I could either talk about it in a way that brought my husband down and complain about it and not be encouraged at all and only do damage, or I could be honest and admit that yes it was a challenge but acknowledge the good motives behind it and recognize it was temporary. This way I could share without a complaining attitude or disrespecting my husband. Philippians 2:14 says “Do all things without complaining and disputing."
Another thing to keep in mind when sharing struggles that involve others is not to say things that aren’t necessary or that you aren’t sure about and don’t mention names if you don’t need to. Do it with the right heart attitude.
Lighthouse Gospel Church