Live to Forgive: Empty Cliche’s

“How can your empty clichés comfort me? All your explanations are lies (Job 21:34)!”

Job’s words after experiencing excruciating loss are filled with emotion. He is speaking from the experience of real pain over loss he had no control over. His so-called “friends” were not being friends to him as the accusations being thrust at him were lies. Their words were irresponsible!

Losing the opportunity to love those we long to love, either by death or transition or any other kind is devastating. When my husband and I experienced the loss of our first son, Wesley, as a stillborn, we grieved the opportunity to love him, know him, and watch him grow and mature. Holding our lifeless son in our arms was devastating. Our emotions were real. This was a loss not anyone had control over. It wasn’t caused by wrong choices by us or irresponsible decisions from doctors. Still, the well-meaning empty clichés came: “you’re young, you’ll have more children,” “maybe something was wrong with him,” “time will heal.” I am certain everyone who said these things simply wanted to help us. The truth is however, anyone who has experienced the beauty of each child’s uniqueness, not having the “perfect” child as defined by the world, or has known the reality of time standing still, can identify with the added pain of empty clichés.

Empty clichès are also spoken to relieve guilt, or to minimize a “felony” to a “misdemeanor” particularly if the so-called “friends” are in positions of power and influence and are the perpetrators who are shooting bullets of pain into our brothers and sisters in Christ. This criminal language doesn’t serve us well in Christianity. If we are in a position of power and influence in the church or in our homes and are speaking empty clichés to those we are guilty of shooting, it is called one thing – sin. We are lying to relieve our own guilt.

In this season of lent, let’s take the time to confess to our forgiving God the empty clichés we have said to him. Let’s apologize to those we have been guilty of shooting the first bullet at and the second deadly bullet of an empty cliché. The empty tomb has the power to redeem empty clichés. Oh God, please help us love the way that you love – with no empty clichés.

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