The Last Thing You Want to Hear When You’re Hurting

You are afraid to open up . Because you've seen judgment before and it wasn't pretty. What's the last thing you want to hear when you're hurting and what can be said instead?

Somewhere along life’s journey, your heart developed a hole. Maybe it started as a small tear, but someone said a few words that tore that hole a little bigger. Maybe it wasn’t just a few words. Maybe the conversations gained momentum to the point of losing relationships. Or having to move jobs. Or homes. Or churches. That hole in your heart was ripped wide open and the wound is still healing.

But then you were brave enough to share the pain with a friend. You never dreamed that you would be so bold as to let someone else know how much you were hurting, but somehow you gained the courage to start talking about it. And all that friend said, essentially, was:

“Oh, it will be ok.”

Or something to that effect and they brushed you off or seemed embarrassed that you shared.

The last thing you want to hear when you’re hurting is that it will be ok. What you long for the most is just someone to listen. You don’t even mind if they don’t understand everything you’re going through. What you really want to hear: “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how much that hurts.”

The Pastor’s Wife Who Needed More Than “It Will Be Ok”

Years ago, I invited a pastor’s wife into my home. I have two kitchen cabinets that hold the food storage containers and lids, water bottles, plastic wrap, sandwich bags, aluminum foil, and a few other items. As we worked in the kitchen, the pastor’s wife opened those cabinets and the look on her face hurt my feelings. She was appalled. Then disgusted. Her eyebrows went up and I felt her stifle the air of disdain that overcame her. Why, she had three kids and she would NEVER let her cabinets get in this sort of disaster! The items in these two cabinets get used constantly and when children empty the dishwasher for me, well, it’s sufficient to say those two cabinets often look like a bomb went off inside.

It might seem silly, but I felt very vulnerable. I had invited her into my home because I wanted to befriend her. Little did I know that perfectly organized kitchen cabinets were such a priority to her. I shared my home and hearth and it wasn’t good enough for her. She didn’t say anything, but that look on her face hurt me. I never was brave enough to tell her how I felt. Not long after that, she endured some severe marital heartache and I knew she needed friends. But I couldn’t overcome my fear of her disapproval.

I was sorry that our relationship was not such that I could call her up and say, “Hey, I know you are hurting. Do you need someone just to listen?” Because I knew that she needed more than “It will be ok.” I prayed for her, but when I think of her now, I wish I had done more. I could have at least sent her an email or wrote a note that let her know I was praying for her.

Your Friend Who Needs More than “It Will Be Ok”

You know why we don’t share our hearts? The same reason we don’t share our thoughts. Or our homes. Or our experiences. Because we’re afraid of being judged. That was my fear with letting the pastor’s wife come in my home. I was afraid she might judge me for dirt on the floor, or dishes in the sink, or my lack of hairstyle, or mismatched decor… So when she judged me for messy kitchen cabinets and my fear was confirmed, I had difficulty opening back up. I wish it wasn’t that way and I could have a do-over. Her family moved many miles away and I’m not in touch with her anymore. I missed my chance to show her that God is bigger than messy kitchen cabinets and his love is bigger than messy relationships.

You know someone who needs a listening ear. Today I’m asking you just to give it. Right where you are…

without judgment.

Drop your facade and let down your guard. Even if you’ve opened up and it didn’t work out.

Just be there for someone who needs a little more than…

“It will be ok.”

Rachel

 

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7 Comments

  1. Hey Rachel, I love your new site! It looks great and is so easy to navigate! The post today is right on. Thanks for the reminder. There’s always someone hurting in our lives. ~andy lee

  2. This is a very timely word! I was having trouble with someone online this week and instead of reporting them I chose instead to bless them and pray for them. By simply remembering one thing my pastor had said one time, “Hurting people hurt people.” it opened up the door to a new friend. So many times we only see our own hurts and fail to see the hurting person who needs a timely hug or word of encouragement right in front of us.

  3. Thank you. Your words met me right where I am. I understand how it feels to just need someone willing to listen and not judge. Thank you for affirming my heart.

  4. Kathy Tandal says:

    You touched my heart (again). My best friend today is someone who hurt me by not listening when I was sharing a deep hurt. It was totally out of character for me, I think it was desperation, but I confronted her, and told her I need you to hear me, you can’t fix it, just listen. God bless her, she did, and having someone just sit with me in my pain was a very healing experience for me. In the book of Job, his friends initially did the right thing by silently grieving with Job (then they went down the wrong path of giving advice and criticizing). I’m learning to sit quietly, and share the pain and show I care. Thank you for caring Rachel.

  5. You always say the neatest things. They seem to touch my heart. I don’t share much with anyone, and then when I get to see a woman who is safe (far enough away not to repeat what I say), I say too much. I need to watch my mouth. I regret so much of what I say. I think some of it is Satan but I think some is my good sense of privacy. I hope you are able to do the things you say. I admire you if you are. At any rate, I admire you for wanting to do more. God Bless You!

  6. Thanks for sharing. Too often I find myself needing to hear those words, “It will be okay.” But instead all I feel that I get is judgement.

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