It’s funny how child loss has, at the same time, made me more yielding and more steadfast.
I give in without a moment’s hesitation to other people’s choice in where to go for lunch, what to do for birthdays, how to arrange this or that at church. My brain simply doesn’t have the capacity any more to argue over trifles.
But I will stand up to a lion for the sake of love or to protect a hurting heart.
I can be a little reactionary when that happens-snapping and biting the heads off those who might have said or done something in ignorance and not intentionally.
So I’m learning to think a minute before I launch into a tirade and try to discern just what will be most helpful.
I want to challenge and educate folks, not send them running for cover every time they see me coming around a corner.
I want to be fierce without being fractious.
I ask myself, “How can I communicate truth in love?” and I try to follow these precepts:
Don’t attack the person. Quite often people speak without thinking and speak about things they haven’t experienced. They may just be parroting something they’ve heard and not even actually believe it themselves.
Ask questions. Try to suss out WHY they said or did what they said or did. Again, without thinking? Or is there a motive behind it? Fear is a frequent motivator for pushing hurting hearts away. People are afraid of how much they might have to invest in a relationship or they are afraid that what happened to me can happen to them and they just don’t want the reminder.
Educate. I often start by saying something like, “If you haven’t buried a child, you would have no way to know this but…” and follow up with whatever I think they might need to hear. No one can argue with my experience. I’ve never had a single person walk away angry when I share this way. Some have come back and thanked me for the insight.
Extend grace. I know child loss but I don’t know everything or even a tenth of everything. So while my friend may have stepped on MY toes by saying or doing something today, I’ve probably stepped on HERS another day. I try to assume that the person in front of me is doing the best he or she can and not aiming to inflict pain on my heart.
Choose to end fruitless discussions. If I realize that the person I’m speaking to is defensive, resistant and unyielding, then I find an opportune moment to end the conversation. We’ve all been there-someone itching for a fight decides that now is the moment to have one. I’m not interested in debating anyone over my experience so I just don’t.
As long as I walk in this world there will be others with whom I disagree. some who actively seek to wound and many who are just ignorant of situations they have never experienced.
I don’t want to bludgeon them with words, forcing them to agree with me.
I want to be a light that opens eyes, a gentle breeze that blows away the fog and helps them see clearly.