When Words Fall Flat

Sometimes it’s very hard to sit down and write. I feel like one of Job’s friends, tucked away in my nice, air conditioned house, married to a man who treats me like a princess, surrounded by special friends, and connected to a vibrant church, telling everyone “trust God and everything will be okay”. I know many of my readers are hurting, and many of them due to circumstances that are out of their control. You’ve done all the right things, said all the right things, and life smacks you upside the head anyway. And to be honest, I don’t have much to say. Oh, I could tell you that God is with you, holding you, loving you, whether you feel Him or not. And I could pop off a bunch of verses about how God will turn all things to good for those who love Him, but you know all that. In your head. But sometimes the pain is so deep, it blocks the truth from settling in our hearts.

Perhaps it is the sign of the times, or maybe I’m just becoming more aware of the pain around me, but ever since I started my weekly marriage column on Reflections, I’ve encountered numerous broken marriages. Shattered by infidelity. And to be honest, I don’t know how to respond to something like that. It broke my heart, made me sick, just to think about it. Caps left off toothpaste, socks on the floor, toilet seats left up, I can handle. Violated trust? Wow, that cuts deep. And it’s easy to blame ourselves. Maybe if I were prettier, more attentive, cooked more, cleaned more, whatever, my spouse wouldn’t have strayed. True, all of us could do a better job in some of those areas, but boundaries are boundaries and just as the bank teller isn’t responsible for the room full of injured people, neither are you responsible for your spouse’s choice.

I’m sure I’ll get lots of teeth-gritting, nasty comments hurled my way for this post, but that’s fine. My Mac will shield me from even the most rotten tomatoes. And I’m not saying throw in the towel. Nor am I saying hold on with both hands. What I am saying is I have no business saying anything, except run to Jesus and rest in His arms. He’ll tell you what to do.

About a year ago, a dear friend was dealt a devastating blow. Her husband was caught up in addiction–an addiction that was destroying him, their relationship, and her children. After much prayer, she decided to leave. It broke my heart to see my friend suffer, but what hurt me even more was all the “well-intentioned” advice thrown her way, clouding out God’s voice with human expectations and obligations. Oh, how clearly we hear the voice of God for someone else.

A few years ago Casting Crowns came out with a song called, “What If My People Prayed.” One line has stayed with me ever since. In the song, they ask, “What if families turned to Jesus and quit asking Oprah (or Melba, or Gramma, or Jennifer Slattery, grin) what to do.” This got me thinking, does God really need me to speak for Him, or would He rather speak directly to my friend Himself? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God doesn’t call people to speak truth. And I am not saying that God doesn’t speak to us through others. I am saying, however, that He probably calls us a lot less frequently than we think. And yet, God always, always, always, longs to speak to our family and friends Himself.

So, the next time we’re tempted to pop off some religious mumbo-jumbo, what if we pointed our friends to Jesus instead? He’s big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to speak into their lives Himself. And yeah, they may make a mistake. They may even hear Him wrong. But they’ll be one step closer to their Creator, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Learning to sift through all the garbage noise in order to hear God’s voice more clearly?

And for those of you who are barely holding on today, turn to Jesus. Seek Him out until His voice breaks through. Record His promises to never leave you nor forsake you on three by five cards and pull them out when the fears and insecurities threaten to overwhelm you. And know I’m praying for you.


  1. Just found your blog Jennifer and what a place of beauty it is. I am adding it to my blog list. Love this post. Written with such grace and honesty.
    Blessings, Robin

    1. Ah, thanks, Robin. Although I’m sad to say, I learned this lesson the hard way after slamming on way too many w/ well-intentioned advice I just knew God wanted me to give them! Unfortunately, once those words are out, you can’t suck ’em back in. And some bridges take an awful long time to mend.

  2. Wow… I really need to think about what I say before I say it, need to think about how people might be feeling instead of assuming I already know. Great post, Jen.

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