As today is baby loss awareness day it reminded me of the time a well meaning acquaintance remarked on a miscarriage I’d suffered years before.
During a conversation with my Mother they said ” Oh well she’s still young enough to have more children”. I was young enough and went on to have 3 more children bringing our complement up to 4. But their remark still stung.
Yes I had more children but I loved that baby, I wanted that baby and I grieved for it. My other children weren’t a replacement for it.
We have been studying in church recently about encouragement and what often passes for it when it leaves our mouths.
Too often our encouragement is a well meaning lie or meaningless platitude. Meant to convey sympathy without adding actions to it.
For example we frequently tell people we know how they feel, we understand what they’re going through, that things will pass, that everything will be okay, when in fact we don’t always know that for sure.
This does not make us bad people to want to show sympathy to our friends and others we encounter. In fact I think it’s a natural human reaction to want to alleviate another’s suffering or pain.
Where it departs from the ideal is those instances we voice an insincere platitude because we don’t know what to say to make things better or to fill a conversational silence, as I have done on occasion.
Other times our sympathy should be backed up with action, a chance to demonstrate our care such as visiting a friend in hospital, making that phone call, writing that letter, sending that text.
No one wants to feel invisible. No one wants to fall between the cracks in society but the deeply sad truth is people do.
We pack people on their way with a band aid over the gaping wound in their lives and wonder why they struggle to pick up the pieces. No wonder Jesus weeps. It makes me weep to think of it.
I remember praying for a lady who was going through a very tough time. I felt so inadequate to express myself because her pain was so raw. When she went away I felt as if all I’d done was give her an elastoplast and tell her to sort herself out.
There will be times when words are not necessary or enough. In those times just sitting in silence with someone or hugging them is more appropriate. People need to know they are cared for.
And with regards to encouraging or praising others when they do a good job too often we are silent, perhaps thinking someone else will tell them or they must know how good they are at that particular thing.
People don’t always know.
And to borrow a quote “Encourage the good wherever you see it and if you can’t see it look harder”.