Nothing! Yes, often the best thing to say is nothing at all. But that’s so hard for this fix-it society. In fact, I caught myself opening my mouth to spout a fix-it verse just the other day. We often feel like when someone says something, we have to respond. Right that second. Don’t.
Stop. Listen. Think. Respond. Silence is not always a sign of a lack of wisdom. Sometimes it’s the greatest sign of wisdom. Use your filter!
While you’re saying nothing, try just sitting with your friend. Offer a hug, a shoulder, and a tissue box. Actually ask if she wants to talk about it, or what you can do to help. What do you need? What can I do for you? And then respect the answer. Or try a simple I’m so sorry.
“When you make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, you make the world a better place.”Lysa TerKeurst, Facebook, Sept. 10, 2019
But what do you do about those pesky feelings? It’s ok to feel that way. God isn’t mad at you for feeling that way. Me, too (but don’t hijack the conversation). I understand (but only if you really do – “tired” is not the same as chronic fatigue syndrome; “my husband is away for a week” is not the same as not having one). I can’t say I understand your struggle exactly, but I will certainly pray for you!
I don’t want to give the impression that reciting Bible verses is wrong, but do so judiciously. Don’t offer bandaids for bullet holes. Do offer a relevant Scripture or two, but don’t try to make the issue go away or minimalize it with the “magic” of Bible verses.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11
Bonus responses: I’m on the way with chocolate ice cream! Let’s meet at Starbucks; I’m buying.
Seeking to understand is always better than trying to give answers! How are you planning on encouraging someone the next time the need arises? How do you need to be encouraged yourself? What works for you?