Monday, July 23

Please Don’t Give me a Christian Answer

I love Jesus. I love God. I love His Truth. I love People.

Both Christians and those who haven’t found their way yet,  I love them.

But I don’t love packaged Christian answers. Those that tie everything up in a nice neat bow. And make life a little too tidy.

Because there just isn’t anything tidy about some things that happen in our broken world. The shooting that happened in Aurora, CO over the weekend is awful and sad and so incredibly evil.

And God help me, if I think I’m going to make things better by thinking up a clever Christian saying to add to all the dialogue. God certainly doesn’t need people like me with limited perspectives, limited understanding, limited depth — trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense.

Is there a place for God’s truth in all this? Absolutely. But we must, must, must let God direct us. In His time. In His way. In His love.

And when things are awful we should just say, “This is awful.”  When things don’t make sense, we can’t shy away from just saying, “This doesn’t make sense.”

When my sister died a horribly tragic death, it was because a doctor prescribed some medication that no child should ever be given. And it set off a chain of events that eventually found my family standing over a pink rose draped casket.

Weeping.

Hurting.

Needing time to wrestle with grief and anger and loss.

And it infuriated my raw soul when people tried to sweep up the shattered pieces of our life by saying things like, “Well, God just needed another angel in heaven.” It took the shards of my grief and twisted them even more deeply into my already broken heart.

I understand why they said things like this. Because they wanted to say something. To make it better. Their compassion compelled them to come close.

And I wanted them there.

And then I didn’t.

Everything was a contradiction.  I could be crying hysterically one minute and laughing the next. And then feel so awful for daring to laugh that I wanted to cuss. And then sing a praise song. I wanted to shake my fist at God and then read His Scriptures for hours.

There’s just nothing tidy about all that.

You want to know the best thing someone said to me in the middle of my grief?

I was standing in the midst of all the tears falling down on black dresses and black suits on that grey funeral day. My heels were sinking into the grass. I was staring down at an ant pile. The ants were running like mad around a footprint that had squashed their home.

I was wondering if I stood in that pile and let them sting me a million times if maybe that pain would distract me from my soul pain. At least I knew how to soothe physical pain.

Suddenly, this little pigtailed girl skipped by me and exclaimed, “I hate ants.”

And that was hands down the best thing anyone said that day.

Because she just entered in right where I was.  Noticed where I was focused in that moment and just said something basic. Normal. Obvious.

Yes, there is a place for a solid Christian answer. Absolutely.

But there’s also a place to just weep with no answers at all.

God help us to know the difference.

Discussion

  1. 119

    Thank you Lysa! You are always an inspiration to me and I appreciate you more than words can say!

    • 120
      Karen Ganz says:

      Lysa, I was 17 years old in 1979 when my father was brutally murdered. The case has never been solved to this day. I’ll never wrap my brain around it and still think about him and what he has missed out on in my and my sister’s life every day. From what I can remember and still to this day people do not know what to say and the reaction goes from shocked to spewing the dumbest remarks. I agree, saying nothing is best. Just being there for someone and praying is worth more than words. In God’s time. In his way. In his love.

    • 121
      Roberta says:

      Thanks so much Lysa!!! This is hands down one of the best blogs that I have read and I want to thank you for allowing Him to minister in such an awesome way. This blog reminds me that it is so important not to be so spiritually minded that we can not be any earthly good. Much love to you, my dear sister!!!

    • 122
      Glenda Hall says:

      Thank you Lysa. It’s funny that I just recently was contemplating these same thoughts, what to say to people during difficult times. And I too hate some of the things people say just because they feel the need to say something they think is comforting. When really something so very simple would be the best.

  2. 123
    Karen Barkley says:

    Lysa, I lost my dad suddenly on June 21, 2012. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. The saying that gets to me is., ” It was his time”. So, are they implying, since it was his time, God caused him to run into that tree. No, I don’t think so.. But he was there waiting for dad when he went to his heavenly home. I really struggle with that saying and what it implies. Someone asked me what they should say to my mom. I told them to just say I”m sorry. A hug was nice too. I too have laughed and cried. I struggle with the whys and the what ifs. But, since then, I have spent some sweet time with God. I have my dad’s Bible now. In it were plans to follow for reading the Bible. I am following it now. I am seeing things in there with new eyes. I feel like I have gained a part of my father. I still start to text him. I sobbed at my son’s baseball game last week, missing dad. We spent a lot of time together at games. I still can’t wrap my head around him being gone. My love for him will never leave.

  3. 124

    This year my son will be starting middle school, which means we’ll need to be up an hour earlier and which also means less time to get him ready in the morning. My daughter will be starting Kindergarten, which means we have to be ready a little earlier since she’ll be taking a bus to school. I think that getting everything ready the night before and putting it where it can be easily found in the morning will help us have a more peaceful morning. Last year, the stress level increased when the bus was due to be coming any minute and I began getting unglued and yelling for my son to find his shoes and get them on. Not a good way for either of us to start the day. I also think that I need to get all of us, especially myself, to bed earlier so that we get enough rest and aren’t so tired in the morning. Starting off tired and cranky just lends itself to more craziness and stress. We don’t start school here until September, so I still have time to enjoy the summer. I think I’ll start practicing having peaceful Sunday mornings and not get unglued while gettting everyone ready for Church. Maybe if I can master that, then school days won’t be so difficult to handle. Baby steps?

  4. 125
    Brandy Nier says:

    Thank You Lysa. A friend posted a link on FB about your new book and today I followed (to my blessing). I’m a mother of four girls ages 25, 21, 20 and 14. During the pregnancy of our youngest something went wrong with my body and it rejected the pregnancy. I was very ill, and with much struggle delivered her. However, my body never recovered and I have been ill for 15 years now. Some say it’s all in my head, some say Fibromyalgia and some keep testing. All I know is after 4 surgeries and years of sickness and pain…I try to believe God has not forgotten me, my husband or my girls. The eldest left home and married without allowing our family to be at her wedding (at our church by our pastor by the way). We have tried to reach her since 2009 but she is so bitter and angry. Our next two daughters decided to leave home just as the oldest. One lives with her oldest sister and the other is living with a young man and his brother. All because they say I am worthless. I have been a good mother, even if bound to bed, but they are still angry. My 14 yr old is an Angel in disguise but I see the struggle and pull in her soul to understand why her mom is so ill and God the great physician has not heard and answered their cries. You are right; Sometimes all you can do is cry or grieve and there’s no Scripture or famous Quote to sooth our wounds. “Please don’t give me a Christian Answer!”, I have already tried and said it all. Your books sound like reading that may help my family. Thank You for saying it truthfully. Sincerely, Brandy.

    • 126
      Annalisa says:

      Hi Brandy,
      I just read your post about being ill for fifteen years. I am so sorry. I was wondering if you have ever researched Lyme disease? Please look up the symptoms and see if you may have any of these symptoms. I am wondering if that is why you are so sick.
      I’m praying for you.

  5. 127

    Thank you for your honesty. I have lost several family members in the past couple of years and I believe people to be sincere, but lacking understanding in what to say.

    Thank you again for your openess.

    Kay

  6. 128

    This is the best I could do at a Christian answer…which might not be that good. I am heartbroken. http://brightenacorner.com/romans-828

  7. 129

    Lysa,

    I am a Christian. I have been for years. Unforunately, This past year has been the hardest of my life and I am terribly broken and farther away from God than I have been in years. Your writings speak so clearly to me and I thank you for that. This one does in an amazing way. I work in a church in a very broken situation, but am still looked at to give and receive those “perfect packaged Christian answers”. I need someone to cry with me. Be real with me. At the place that I am supposed to be refueled and able to worship and ministered to – I no longer can. I know God has great things in store for me, but seem to be doing everything I personally can do to sabotage that plan and purpose. I feel that I am at a major crossroads in my life and am stuck in a sink hole. I have learned a lot this year about myself and a lot that I don’t like. Please pray for strength and that I don’t miss what God has in store for me. Thanks for being faithful to your calling. God Bless.

  8. 130

    I have 4 boys 7 months, 3 years, 8 years & 9 years Old. We do not have the typical getting out the door issues every morning because we home school. However, we do still have our difficulties getting on track in the mornings with our crazy bunch. I have found that the most creative answer to many of our issues has been giving our older 2 boys responsibilities to help out when it is needed. Daily they make their own breakfast and lunch most days… it is part of their life skills, and they learn so much from having to help out instead of just being served. I tried being the Mom that ran around serving my kids all day, but then I saw them expect me to do it all for them, and that was just not acceptable.

    • 131
      LaKesha says:

      I agree, Im learning that giving the children responsibilities help everyone in the home.

  9. 132

    We just lost our third child and are in the midst of pain. It’s so true death and grief is not tidy and I’ve so loved friends who were just there, no words were necessary.

  10. 133

    I literally get in my closet in the mornings before my boys wake up to “debrief” with God. If I miss that time, like I did yesterday, I say “Jesus” repeatedly throughout the day and pray in an unknown language so that I don’t become unglued.

  11. 134

    Amen! You know what I call those people always ready with a proper Christian answer, sunshine sufferers. It’s okay to be real, to expose very ounce of hurting and pain. We lost our 7 year old son four years ago and it broke my heart every time I attempted to share my pain with fellow believers only to have them try to wrap my heartache in eternal wrapping paper and call it good. Calling Christ my Savior doesn’t negate my suffering; but it does allow me to survive the pain. I will praise him always, but let me cry a little too.

  12. 135
    LaKesha says:

    Good Morning, To make for a more peaceful morning with the children I would definitely say pray with them each morning and play music while getting dressed.

  13. 136

    A FaceBook friend shared this, and I appreciate it. I’ve been praying to God for help with friends like these. Feeling guilty about thinking this way, and hoping I wasn’t judging them.

  14. 137

    POWERFUL, POWERFUL post Lysa!! A big “AMEN” here.

    Pamela

  15. 138

    I agree with you. More and more I find myself getting irritated at “Christianese” . . . and the number one phrase that gets to me is, “God is in control.” Four years ago, I expressed my fears about the upcoming election and was immediately greeted with chorus of, “God is in control.” I still want to scream at them, “Of COURSE you can say, ‘God is in control’! Your candidate is going to win!”

    I sometimes think people resort to Christianese when they are uncomfortable with our pain and our questions, or when they don’t know what to say. But they know they have to say something “spiritual-sounding”.

    I think something else that irritates me about Christianese is that it implies that we cannot grieve, that we cannot be angry at God, that we cannot have questions. Those who believe that haven’t looked very closely at the Psalms where the Psalmist (whether David or otherwise) demands to know where God is.

  16. 139

    The other messy thing about these situations is that sometimes our anger, that we disguise as anger over well meaning comments, is truly anger at God. Deep in our hearts we know people are showing love and compassion. In normal circumstances that would evoke gratitude. When it doesn’t, we need to look to God and see what we are feeling towards Him. Trust me He can take it. He dealt with me for years. In truth, it is all His timing in that He always has the option to lift people out of situations, to save them. If He doesn’t it must mean He has a bigger plan that we cannot see or understand at this time. That can be frustrating, even infuriating when you are desperate for answers. I pray for all of those in Aurora. I hope that whoever is there to help these people will lesson and give a “Christian answer” when that is what they need and just an ear when that is all that will help.

  17. 140

    Very well said!

  18. 141

    I am struggling in hold on to faith, I know that I love Jesus, but i let too much of myself get in the way. Please pray for my strenght.

  19. 142
    Joyanne Swanson says:

    I disagree about saying nothing to those who are suffering with such loss. I think it is very important to recognize the pain they are in and that it doesn’t make sense. It is okay to say “I don’t know what to say” when faced with a friend or a loved one or even a stranger who is facing such a tragedy. There is no making sense of it…but there is Peace that can be had by leaning on God because we don’t understand and because it is all so shocking. Following our agreement and empathizing with their pain, we need to help in practical ways too. Be God’s hands and feet ministering to them through this difficult time.

  20. 143

    I can so relate. Sometimes I find myself telling someone in their grief that I don’t know what to say, that I can’t imagine their pain, ask if I can hug them… and let them know I am here. The worst thing said to me at my mother’s funeral when I couldn’t stop weeping…. from a family member… that I needed to get it together because I was upsetting others around me. I don’t think I cried much for a year after that… then I got sick when it came up to the year of her death – went to counseling and found a church and many women who helped me reach out to God who helped me. Sometime 2 -5 years after her death I think it was my aunt told me that I would never get over losing her, but would get through. Those words have helped me and I have shared those with others (when appropriate). Sorry for the loss of your sister. And yes, the tragedy in CO is so senseless, I can’t understand and struggle to explain it to my children as well. All I can think of to do is pray for those hurting, praying for comfort only God can provide.

  21. 144

    so. so. so. good.

  22. 145

    It is common sence to prepare the night before, set clothes outs, get up earlier….. Blah blah, I still have hectic mornings!! My tiny secret that seemed to help a little this past year was setting all clocks up by 10 minutes. I’m the only one who knew, so I could keep my panic level down while they all thought they were going to be late for school. However, I would rather do it without tricking my family so I’m up for a challenge!!

  23. 146

    Thank you.

  24. 147
    Sheri Gay says:

    I am facilitating a Made to Crave group this summer. It has been a challenge to meet regularly because of schedules BUT this study has turned out to be way more that about food intake…your spirtual approach has really hit home with my gals in a way I never expected and they are really facing some challenges in their lives head on. I am so proud of them. Thank you for this unique approach to self-control in all areas of our lives. Truly you are anointed of God with a special message for all women.

  25. 148

    I lye here weeping after reading this! I am going through something very difficult in my marriage & everyone including people that aren’t even acting as Christians should are bombarding me with “understanding”. I have come of like a jerk trying to explain myself. my heart is light after reading this.

  26. 149

    My heart couldn’t agree with you more, sister…I have been there and know many who are in this place now. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  27. 150
    Eunice Williams says:

    So simple. So true!!

  28. 151

    I needed to read this today. Feeling completely unhuman after a suicide of a very close friend, ok more than a friend, he was loved, so much by me, and others. I feel guilty for smiling, trying to be normal, then angry he chose to take himself away from me, from all of us. I go to his grave and yell at him, then cry for him, wanting just one more hug and an I love you. Then the emotions repeat, being ok and smiling at our memories, crying histerically, wondering why, being mad at God for not stopping him, sad, and then repeat again. It doesn’t make sense, and I’ve tried to make sense of it, wanting to blame anyone but him, the one person who had a choice in it, yet I want to scream at those that tell me time will heal all wounds… Thanks for sharing your story, in a way it helped me feel not so, crazy I guess?

  29. 152

    I browse blog after blog here and there. This one is special. I just hate the Colorado situation and never once thought up a single reason why I shouldn’t. I believe God hates it too and the raw, unbridled message in this blog validates that emotion.

  30. 153

    Thank you Lisa, for the best post. I buried my father last Oct, and he died on my 20th wedding anniversary. Until then I hadn’t experienced that kind of loss before. It was then I realized all you talk about in this post. Sometimes there just isn’t anything to say.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] mother-in-law sent me Lysa TerKerust’s post Please Don’t Give Me A Christian Answer and I couldn’t agree [...]

  2. [...] the only thing I’ve read re: Aurora that I approve of (ESPECIALLY in light of Job) was this article. Yes. Yes. Yes. It is okay for something to just suck (well, not really, but it’s okay that [...]

  3. [...] Please Don’t Give me a Christian Answer | Lysa TerKeurst [...]

  4. [...] Please Don’t Give Me a Christian Answer [...]