One of the clear, specific memories I have from seminary was this bit of wisdom: If you don’t know what to say, please don’t force words. I wanted to place quotes around that, but I am afraid I haven’t captured the exact words with which Dr. Don Joy shared that wisdom.
The point being, of course, that sometimes, in the presence of great pain and suffering, forcing words fails to support or encourage. Forcing words may indeed have the opposite affect; we have no business telling someone that “it will make sense some day,” or that “God meant for this to happen to you,” or any of the numerous other trite phrases that spew out of our mouths when we force ourselves to put words where there are none.
Sometimes silence and presence is the best message we can offer another.
This is a week that we all want to offer words. The Boston Marathon bombing. The explosion in West. Events that have shaken, for many literally, the peace that we want to associate with day-to-day life.
Many, many people are on the ground offering help in both these places. Many more are on high alert to be called upon at a moments notice. Still many more are praying.
I should have expected this as West, Texas is not far from me, and even closer to Waco, where I spent the last 15 years before moving here in June. When I checked my newsfeed on Facebook, almost all of the posts offered words of hope, reassurance, or promises of prayers for West. Most of the same people have posted similarly about Boston.
The temptation for me was to get into the fray and offer the same, or very similar words. Would anyone infer from my NOT having so posted that I am apathetic towards either of these recent tragedies?
Don’t read this as opposition to social media; I would not be so obviously hypocritical. I am, however, left wondering if the proliferation of social media these days leaves less space in which saying nothing can be received as support and encouragement.