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Coping with Insensitivity

It’s just a fact of life – people say careless things. From infancy people have been saying careless things to you. One of your parents probably serenaded you with the lullaby, “Rock-a-Bye Baby.” Have you ever considered the lyrics of that song? It’s about placing a baby in a cradle at the top of a tree. The wind rocks the cradle causing the tree limb to break. The baby in this sweet song is not rescued, however, but falls unceremoniously to the ground! Sweet dreams, little one. It’s a good thing babies can’t understand us!

Some of you are right in the middle of a cancer battle. You’re expecting understanding and sympathy, but well-meaning people keep saying careless things. Please understand – this is common – you are not being singled out for this torture! So today I offer a few thoughts on coping with the insensitivity of others.

1) Focus on people’s intentions, not their words.
People generally mean well. They might want you to laugh when you really need to cry, but they’re sincerely meaning to take away your pain. Can you cut them some slack and realize they just hate to see you hurting?

2) Remember your own insensitivities.
I’ve been guilty of every misguided attempt to encourage the hurting, including being overly positive, bad timing, being trite, and the old fallback, “I don’t know what to say so I won’t say anything.” It’s inconsistent for me to be too hard on others when I’ve made the exact same blunders!

3) Focus on the Lord not people.
Psalm 62:2 says, “He only is my rock.” Some people may never, ever let you down, but they represent an exception and are certainly not the rule. Only God is totally dependable. We may feel like He has left or forsaken us, but He never, ever does (Hebrews 13:5).

Lord, grant us the grace to extend grace to others when they don’t understand what we are going through.

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