Have you ever noticed how unhelpful, well-intentioned people can be? Rather than just providing supportive listening, reflection of your thoughts, and validation of your feelings, these people immediately try to problem solve.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself that most people are not trained counselors. Like I said, they probably mean well. But for the life of me, I can’t recall a single time when I was carrying deep hurt in my soul that someone’s advice did anything to help matters.
It reminds me of a time in college when I was seeking a specific supernatural encounter with God. It seemed as though everyone else was going to the next level (as I perceived it) and I wanted to draw closer too. Well, I did and I was growing in Him. But for whatever reason, this specific spiritual sign was not manifesting.
At first, people were very encouraging and they prayed for me. Then, as time marched on with no spiritual sign, those same people (again, the well-meaning ones) implied that it wasn’t happening because I was afraid, I didn’t want to lose control, and I must not fully trust God.
You can imagine my devastation when I was at a young adult conference and God came in the room and I wasn’t there. I’m serious. I stepped away to the restroom and when I came back it was like the Holy Spirit visited the meeting to baptize everyone in His presence and I missed it. I returned to my seat heartbroken and weeping because I felt like He passed me by.
I recognize now there was no truth in that belief. It certainly felt true at the time. Honestly, whenever anything delays, as the really big-ticket items of life often do, then it’s easy to struggle with those thoughts.
Does God just not want to give me this gift? What’s wrong with me that my healing hasn’t come? Is it my fault I can’t conceive? Am I just unlovable and that’s why I’m single?
It’s an ugly shame spiral that only gets more momentum when people jump in with the tips, strategies, and formulas that helped them. What’s even more shameful is when those same advice-givers, perhaps in their inability to explain and their need for a clear reason, blame the person who’s waiting. Well, if you just did X and not Y, you would’ve had Z by now. Ouch. In what world would that message ever give help or healing to the one who hurts?
I’ll tell you what is helpful though. Hope. Deferred hope makes a heart sick, but a storehouse of hope can empower you to face anything in life, even delays.
So, the next time you hear someone struggling with a desire or dream that’s been delayed, ask yourself this: If I choose to respond at all, is my response giving hope and life to their situation, or criticism and judgment?
We always have a choice in what we speak. Speak life.