I mean well … but I know better. I know better than to open my mouth and share my opinion when it isn’t asked for. I know better than to let my own feelings get in the way of what a friend really needs.
A friend shares that she is struggling in her marriage. My heart breaks and I want to help. I remind myself to be a better listener than talker. I do so well until the very end. I couldn’t quite hold it together long enough. I asked God to give me the right words and to say the things she needs to hear. But I know, as soon as it comes out of my mouth, it was wrong. I try, but I fall short.
Another friend is struggling with her spouse and setting healthy boundaries. She knows it and I know it. She has just enough energy to get through the day, let alone address the issues in her life. So why do I continue to have the same conversation over and over? Let it go Mel … let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore – ok my kids are a little obsessed with Frozen – it’s worn off on me. But honestly, what is my problem? Zip it Mel! If you want to be there when it’s all over, don’t say so much now. She needs silent strength from the sidelines. She knows what’s going on; she’s the one fighting the battle. Of course, it’s easy to think you know how to fix things from the sidelines. The coach on the sidelines might get upset when a play doesn’t go as planned, but to the players on the field understands why.
It’s so dang hard to watch people who have so much to offer the world, sit and accept below average circumstances. These friends are amazing – they are loving – they are caring – they are people I want to be around. So why is it that I continue to say things that aren’t helpful? I honestly just want to help. I want to light the fire in their souls so they fight for something better. I want to plant the seed of hope deep in their souls that grows into new dreams and guides them when things seem unmanageable. I want to scoop them up and love them. I want to be an answer that makes it all better.
Knowing that many in my life have watched me struggle and have felt the same about me … I know that the best way to love is to just listen. Offer thoughts only when asked. When my life was unmanageable – I knew it. I didn’t need anyone to point it out to me. The people that I clung to were those who were able to talk to me about normal stuff – who were there when I broke down and needed to unload – but were also able to carry on normal conversation. I’m only able to do it for so long … pretend the elephant isn’t in the room for only a period of time.
I know I need to cut myself a little slack. I guess I’m hard on myself because there were so many people who were wonderful to me. I want to be the same for those whom I love.
I’m the kind of friend who isn’t afraid of struggle. I’m not afraid to join you in the trenches. Life is messy – I’m alright getting a little dirty. Hell, I’m ok being covered in life mud. What I am afraid of is losing people who I love.
Dear heavenly father, guide me and teach me to love people as you did. Guard my tongue from saying things that aren’t helpful. Use me to speak your promise and to grow loving hearts. Encourage those around me to know just how much I love them. Use the love I have in my heart for your good. I pray that those I hold close know just how special and loved they really are.