Sitting in the Mud

Everything happens for a reason. God is in control. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. God won’t give you more than you can handle. Call me if you need anything. Let go and let God.

I’ve been on the receiving end of these cliches. Maybe you have too. You were probably in the midst of some painful circumstances – the death of a loved one, a miscarriage, a job loss, a health crisis, a divorce, a prodigal child. Well-intended people spoke these words to me in my time of deepest pain, purposed to encourage and comfort me.

And in that moment I wanted to rip their faces off.

I have also muttered these phrases to others. And after I did, I cringed at how trite and shallow my words sounded. But it’s all I knew to say. Why do I gravitate toward sharing these patronizing words with those who are hurting, knowing that it will cause them to want to rip my face off?

I don’t like to sit in mud. It’s dirty, it’s uncomfortable, its – muddy. I can endure it for a while, but eventually I want to hop in the shower and get clean.

I don’t like to experience suffering. It’s sad, it’s messy, its painful. I can endure it for a while, but eventually I want to feel better and move on with my life. And this is especially true if it involves someone else’s suffering – someone else’s mud. I am willing to sit in the mud of another’s pain for a season. I visit the funeral home, deliver a meal, send a card or go to coffee. I listen, empathize, encourage and support. For a time.

And then I decide it’s time for them to get up out of the mud. Because I’m ready to get up out of the mud and move on with my life, and I think they should be ready as well.

But what if they’re not?

What if I decided to sit with others in the mud until they are ready to get up? What if I put aside my need to fix it? What if I threw my timetable out the window? What if I chose silence instead of cliches? What if I got comfortable in the mud?

I’m sorry. I know you’re hurting. What can I do for you? You’re gonna get through this.  I don’t understand either. I will walk through this with you. You’re not alone. I love you. I will sit in the mud with you until you are ready to get up.

I want to be comfortable sitting in the mud, because someone sat in the mud with me.

And I don’t want my face ripped off.

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