Gratitude has a place in all of our lives, but I don’t feel it is something we should tell others to have. Phrases like “find the silver lining” or “everything happens for a reason” are not helpful. When a person is experiencing distress, whether profound or not, those trite platitudes do very little more than provoke guilt and further alienate. Sometimes, people are able to see strands of good running throughout a negative event much later once time has created some distance. Some hurt penetrates so deeply that no amount of time and distance brings any good to the forefront. In the heat of the moment, our brains aren’t going to immediately see good, especially since our brains see pain and hurt first, remember those emotions first, and respond to them with more intensity. We are animals first and feeling fear is a natural way we keep ourselves safe. Sometimes, I am envious of the animals around me. When they feel loss and grief, they don’t have other animals telling them to find the bright side, to keep their chin up, or to grin and bear it. What would it be like to live in a world where the pain another is experiencing does not exist as a platform to promote unrealistic positivity? What would it be like if we were strong enough to feel pain with another, to mourn and comfort them, without needing them to smile and pretend things are ok? What if we realized that the unrest we feel inside when another is mourning is our hearts reacting as they should? Some things hurt because they should hurt. I especially bristle when I hear people saying “God has a plan” or “this was God’s will”. To the person in pain, those awful phrases just imply that God meant for them to hurt this badly, that God wanted this for them, that God chose for them to lose whatever was taken. We don’t know the mind of God, nor do we know the will of God. We should not invoke God’s name to spout the same misguided adages spoken to us. They were said to you because someone didn’t know how to deal with the reality of a world where God is good but bad things still happen. When those same words come from your mouth, you’re no different and you’re not helping spread God’s love or comfort someone when God’s love is exactly what they’re questioning. In a world with lots of bad, it is very hard to believe that God is good. In those moments of mental chaos, a hug is probably best or a good cup of coffee, or both.
One thought on “A cup of coffee please, not a side of platitudes.”
Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for speaking the truth Beka. Very well said.