One of the blessings that comes with trials is the empathy and sensitivity you gain toward others who are suffering. I’ve found that when people know you are going through a hard, personal trial, even the most well-meaning friends have a difficult time expressing care and concern without pumping you for the details.
Because of that, I try to be extra sensitive when someone is going through a difficult situation like divorce. Recently I learned that a friend was picking up the pieces after her life fell apart. I spoke to her in private and said, “I don’t need any details and I have no questions for you. I just want you to know that I’m so sorry and that I’m praying for you.”
Relief swept over her face. She told me how hard it was to attend church with (as she called them) the “yackety yaks” needling her for details and information.
It broke my heart to hear her say that! The fellowship of believers should be a safe place, not a dreaded swarm of busy bees.
I’ve learned my no-questions approach both from experience and from the example of a wise friend who is in leadership at our church. Since she’s often in the know about people’s needs, sometimes I’ll ask her about someone who has been out of church for a couple weeks. Her response is often, “Do you have her number? I know she’d love to hear from you.”
Instead of being the one to pass on news and information (don’t we all love that role?!), she encourages others to connect, to care and to serve. She eliminates any chance for gossip or speculation!
I love the contrast in these two verses:
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler (Proverbs 20:19)
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding (Proverbs 17:27)
The next time you’re inclined to push for information, offer unquestioning love and support. The next time someone comes to you for information, encourage them to love and support your friend without engaging in gossip. You’ll be glad you did. ❤