Monday, October 19, 2009

A Kuna Indian woman in her village in Panama

Here is my updated schedule:
October 23 Ok Baptist Academy, Enid Ok
November 6-8 iGo Missions Conference, Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
November 29th Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
December 1-9 Set-up trip to Venezuela
February 3 Wed night service (unconfirmed)
February 3-5 Spiritual Emphasis Week, Indian Rocks Christian School, Tampa, Fla
February 5-7 Disciple Now, FBC Marion, Arkansas
February 16-18 Chapel/Missions training for Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Tx
February Missions Sunday in Pflugerville, Tx (date unconfirmed)
March 13-20 Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Mission trip

This past weekend I was afforded the privilege of preaching three times in two different churches. First at a student retreat and then for a Sunday morning service. What a blessing it is to be able to proclaim the love of our Savior, and to disciple those who love Him!

This coming Friday, I am traveling to Enid, Oklahoma (I've never been there) to speak to high school students. I am excited about going!

I am at times, overwhelmed, at how fast and furious the enemy attacks the weaknesses of believers. I see believers who have battled through much in this life, fall prey to bitterness of heart, sexual immorality and much more.

I must intensify my prayer assault on behalf of each of these.

Have you noticed that the words, "I understand" can get you into trouble?

I think I first realized this, when sympathetic people were offering their condolences to our family, and we heard the phrase often. It is meant to imply, "I am so sorry for your situation," for "your loss," or "I empathize with your circumstances."

Unfortunately, to those in grief, these two words somehow diminish or cheapen the pain of their experience. Especially, when those who speak the words, also offer up a situation that does not begin to compare, as evidence.

Pain is relative. There is no way to compare it except in ones own experience.

For example, I have experienced the loss of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, very dear friends, my father and finally my son. In my own experience, the loss of my grandparents, pales dramatically, in comparison to the loss of my father. There is no way these two experiences are congruent.

Frequently, those who struggle with what to say, and those who are sure they know what to say, offer the same phrase... "I understand."

In truth, they do not. Not even close.

I never knew this was an issue until I heard it over and over again from those who meant well, but have never walked in my shoes.

Their intent is always the best.

Their words often inflamed my ire.

I share this today, because recently, we have seen others suffer similarly. (I truly do not mean to step on the toes of those who have supported us. I just think it is important to NOT tell people you understand something you cannot possibly comprehend.)

Not long ago, we found ourselves on the ugly end of this. What I mean by that, is someone dear to us was expressing the immense difficulty of their own experience in coping with a situation we have never been through.

Innocently, but with empathetic intent, we offered up, "I understand."


How quickly came back the haunting borders of bitterness we camped on when while grieving!

We should have known better. We should have said, "I am so sorry" or "I cannot begin to imagine," or "I sympathize."

The words, "I understand" should not be spoken unless you have walked the same path. We were guilty of comparing griefs. Griefs do not compare... they are relative to the individuals suffering them.

All of this to say that the enemy finds weaknesses in us during times of struggle, suffering, or grief. We must work hard to be available for those God puts in our path, but must be careful of word choice.

Individually, we must also guard against bitterness. It is a playground for the enemy, and comes with all shades of rage and emotion. It may be dumped on unsuspecting well-wishers, without warning.

We do not wish it that way, it tends to be the result of lack of opportunity to clarify ones feelings as needed.

Deanna and I never erupted (that I can remember) on others as we were afforded opportunities to discuss these kinds of things.

Sometimes, people just need to talk without us offering our two cents. They don't want advice. They aren't seeking input. They just need a listening ear.

I think we can all do that. In so doing, we should arm ourselves with the words, "I am so sorry," or "I cannot imagine," over "I understand."

Though the intent is good, the reality often is, we don't.

Have a blessed week!



At 7:00 AM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

You are right, Brent. Your post reminds me of how dependent we are on His grace as we give and receive. Your sensitivity blesses me as I see the way God continues to use your family's suffering for His glory. Your pain helps you understand (pardon the expression) how to minister--and not minister--to others who hurt.

Thanks for the many ways you serve others through this blog, through I Would Die for You, and through your ministry at Awe Star. His hand is clear. His grace is abundant. His renown is certain!

praying in pink
with tender love,


At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Cedarburg Tina said...

As a trained deacon and caregiver in the Presbyterian faith and through the International group Community of Hope, I couldn't agree more! As caregivers, we are reminded often that offering a listening ear and not saying anything but offering a hug, is most often better than anything we could say or saying the wrong thing.

I remember when our son, Jack, age 5 at the time, almost drowned. He was saved by the grace of God but we still had to process this near death experience and the realization that we really can't protect our children from everything no matter how hard we may try. We are not in was not a fun lesson. Well, there were several people who said such insensitive things that made me want to scream, but instead I would just look at them and not say a word. I realize difficult situations, death and near death situations are just that...difficult, but again the important thing to remember when you don't know what to say, is to not say anything at all, offer a hug and pray for that person/people. Leave everything else up to God.


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