Two words I am trying to say less are “at least”. More specifically I am trying not to downplay someone’s suffering.
When a friend tells you “I lost my pregnancy” is it your first instinct to reply with “at least it was early on” or “at least you already have a child”?
When a loved one shares with you the difficulty they are facing taking care of their parent is your first instinct to say “at least you still have that parent” or “at least you aren’t juggling small kids while taking care of your parent”?
When anyone shares a difficulty that they are facing my natural instinct is to downplay it or explain to them they what they are going through could be far worse. My first instinct is to compare their suffering to what I’ve suffered through. But the fact of the matter is that we all go through different suffering. Not one person can experience the exact same thing that another person is experiencing-not even siblings or a spouse. We all suffer differently and we all grieve differently. We all celebrate differently and experience different types of joy. Why? Because we are all created differently.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I have definitely made more of an effort to think before I speak when someone is sharing something personal. I try extremely hard to not just reply with “at least…”. The best thing that I can do is listen, absorb, love and pray.
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
The best advice that I can give is to be honest but in a loving way. If you don’t understand then say something along the lines of “that sounds terrible, I cannot begin to understand what you are going through but I will be praying for you (maybe even pray in the moment if you are led to do so).
There are so many things that I have never experienced but what I have experienced I am willing to share. I have had close friends refer me to their friends or family who are facing difficulties similar to mine; they weren’t able to help but they knew that I might have knowledge that could help or encourage.