Sometimes we say things without thinking about how they may sound to other people.
I had one of those Eureka moments in church last week, and promptly nearly had a meltdown. A lovely man was doing the prayers and he ended off by saying something along the lines of " and we remember those who are grieving, who have been widowed, or who are alone, and we ask that they know your peace." And my eyes flew open and I looked at him, as he walked back to the pew, sat down next to his wife, and probably went home and sat down at the dinner table with his children around him, and I thought....you do.not.have.a.clue. Not one single clue of what you are saying.
Words. Words are easy. They can be so well-intentioned and yet have the power to distance people and you may never begin to realise. Now, before you think I am being judgemental, let me say that I am not. The man I mention could have been me too. But in that single moment, it mattered to me. I must have done the same thing a million times. Not actually considered the words I was saying. And they will have mattered to someone.
The rage that welled up in me was not directed at the man. It was directed at the platitudes which we use simply because they are a part of our grasp of the language we speak. In my case, that happens to be English.
He didn't know. He could not have known. He hasn't been alone, or lost a partner. And he has no idea. Not his fault. In fact, he is enormously blessed. And I genuinely delight in his blessings, and hope he remains blessed forever. I really do.
You can't walk in my shoes any more than I can walk in yours. Here is another example...." I have been thinking about you so much." Said when you bump into someone in the street. How nice. Did it not occur to you to call or visit while you were thinking? "I have been wondering how you are getting on" - Why couldn't you ask? "I haven't seen you for ages...I wondered where you had got to." "I hope life is treating you well."
I do it too. I don't ask. I don't call. I don't visit. Why???? I am too tired. Too focussed on my own problems. Too much to do. Too busy. Busy doing the wrong things. I don't think. I need to do some serious work on myself.
I am in a strange place. I can see both sides, and I am both. I am hurt by the very things which I, in turn, do. This is exactly why everything we experience is designed to be used to help someone who finds themself in similar circumstances.
If only you knew. But I am so glad you don't.