Sitting in the Dark

The other day I went to a meeting at work. I’ve learned over the years in teaching, you never come away from a meeting without personally feeling like you’ve killed at least one tree. I always come away with a stack. When I started teaching I used to always feel the need to come to a meeting with something….so I usually came with a pen and pad of paper. After years of leaving with my paper completely blank and an additional stack of papers received at the meeting, I made a change and began to come to meetings with a pencil….and myself.

Just recently I showed up at a meeting with my usual….self and a pencil. When I sat down, my supervisor said “Linds you’re gonna need a piece of paper to take notes on.” I was about to walk back to my classroom to grab some when a coworker graciously tore out a sheet of paper from her notebook. I accepted it with a thank you and got ready to take vigorous notes. At the end of the meeting I left with three things: my pencil, a blank sheet of paper from my coworker, and a stack of new papers from the meeting. šŸ™‚

The whole situation is humorous to me, but it also connects to something I’ve learned experientially over the past few months. When you are going through something extremely painful everyone you know wants to offer advice or tell you what you need. Their intentions are so pure and most of the time they truly desire you to “feel better.” Just like my supervisor had every good intention for me in that meeting. She wanted me to be prepared. But for her, coming prepared to a meeting meant bringing a pencil and paper. However, often times what people want to tell you is not what you want to hear, need to hear, or are ready to hear right in that moment. Here are some things I’ve learned in a painful season about giving advice….

1. Listen first.
2. Listen well. Seek to hear and really understand, not just listen so that you can give advice later.
3. People in pain need to feel freedom. They do not need expectations projected on them.
4. People in pain will take advice more easily from someone who has gone through something similar.
5. Hurting people need a friend more than they need advice.
6. You can tell when someone else has gone through a deep pain because the way they treat you and what they say is different. They don’t even have to tell you they’ve been there. They just know.

In college I heard this saying and have experienced it’s truth. “Sit in the dark with a friend long enough so your eyes will adjust.” When we go through painful experiences it is often a very dark season for quite some time. Friends can have the best intentions but sometimes they say things that just aren’t helpful. Hurting people need a friend to sit with them in the dark and listen long enough so their eyes can adjust and they can see what they’re friend is seeing. Of course there’s grace and those of us in the painful season also need to realize they have our best in mind.

Sometimes it can be so difficult to watch someone you love struggle through a painful experience, but I can say in my experience no one wanted me to feel better than me! But healing takes time.

In this season I’ve learned to hear what everyone has to say, listening patiently and reminding myself of their intentions. Then I remember one thing a friend told me that is so true. “The Holy Spirit is your great counselor Lindsey. He will speak to you.”

There is no one like Jesus. And true healing is only found in Him.

Thank you God for your Spirit alive in me.

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