If you’ve ever been through a season when pain, loss, and grief seem to overtake your mind, body, and soul, you are probably like me and ultra-sensitive to certain questions. Anyone requesting anything of you can seem judgmental and/or condemning, and can also add to our already teetering juggling act. If you’ve been on the other side of the coin and you love someone who is hurting, your sincere desire to help could actually add to their pain. Sometimes, albeit with heartfelt intentions, we ask the wrong questions and sometimes we ask the right questions the wrong way.
There is one major factor that needs to be established before we can move forward with our little Q&A session. Trust. If my heart is already bleeding and I don’t trust you, you could ask me questions all day long and I will probably roll my heart eyes (and maybe my real eyes) and offer you vague answers as kindly as possible.
It is important to establish a level of trust with someone before you can dig deep. Rummaging around through the wounded soul of another is holy and tender work. (tweet this)
Another less major but still important factor is that you should be willing to answer the questions yourself. It’s never wise to ask someone a question that you wouldn’t be willing to answer too.
With mutual trust established, here are a few questions you can ask me (and others) in seasons of pain and grief:
Ask me how I’m doing as a starting point. If you start out a conversation with me that goes too deep too quickly, I’ll probably shut down. If you listen closely enough to my answer, you should be able to gauge which side of the emotional fence I’m on. In this brief beginning, I will be able to assess how much strength I have and how much I might be willing to invest. Then, if my heart gives a green light, we can proceed with caution.
Ask me if I got the guac.
In her popular podcast, The Happy Hour, Jamie Ivey often asks her guests what the best piece of advice they’ve ever received is. In episode 9 of The Happy Half Hour, Jamie Golden, said that someone once told her, “Get the guacamole!”. Because healing a broken heart is hard work and I am sacrificing so much, I might not be able to trot off to Europe, but hey, I got the guac!!
Ask me how I’m taking care of myself.
There are more specific questions to ask that can take this further, but this question will validate my pain and reinforce the need to be kind to myself.
Ask me if I’ve stood up and stretched out my arms lately.
A change in my posture can change my mood. Watch this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy as she explains how our body language shapes who we are.
Ask me if I’m listening to music and if I am, ask me what music I am listening to.
Ask me if I’m praying every day.
Ask me what God is teaching me.
Ask me when I last left my house.
As an introvert whose heart is hurting, I could easily find my safe corner and live in isolation. As a lifestyle, this is not healthy. I have set a goal for myself to get out of my house at least once per week. I have also promised myself that I wouldn’t cancel on myself. I am worth keeping promises to.
Ask me what truth God is singing over me.
Listening to The Father’s Song by Matt Redman is one song God sings over me.
Ask me what song my heart is singing.
Ask me when was the last time I laughed.
Then ask me to tell you the story. Give me time to answer on this one. Laughter doesn’t come often so it might take me a minute or two to remember.
Ask me if there’s something I know I should be doing that I’m not doing.
What am I fighting? What is it that I need to do but it’s just too hard or too overwhelming? This could be anything from forgiveness to painting my laundry room.
Ask me what I’m grateful for.
In fact, ask me to tell you several things I’m grateful for. Being grateful is a game-changer for a hurting heart.
Ask me who or what I’m serving.
Much of what I do when I’m in pain is self-focused. This is as it should be during times of healing and recovery. But getting outside of myself on occasion is good. Ask me if I’m doing anything to share my heart? I know that as I give my heart away, it grows. This is God’s economy. I just have trouble remembering that at times.
Ask me where I am finding hope.
Ask me where I’m seeing beauty.
Ask me if I’m insulating or isolating.
“Remember we were meant to be in community. Don’t isolate yourself. Insulate your heart but don’t isolate your body.” Patsy Clairmont
Ask me if I took my meds/supplements today.
If I say “no”, ask me when was the last time I did.
Ask me how I’m handling my anger or bitterness.
Ask me what gives me life and what I can do today to breathe it in.
You’ll notice that all of the questions I listed require a specific response, something more than a “yes” or a “no”. There is a difference in asking, “Did you take your meds today?” and “Are you angry?” then asking, “When was the last time you took your meds?” and “How are you dealing with your anger?” Do you see the difference?
Asking the right question the right way is crucial to getting the right answer. (tweet this)
Ask me these questions without expecting an answer. If I answer, that’s a bonus. Chances are, just by you asking me these questions, it could lift me out of a slump long enough to breathe in a fresh perspective. That may be the glimpse of clarity I need to take some positive steps forward in my healing. Ask the questions and then simply listen. I don’t need you to fix my pain. We both know that only God can do that anyway. The fact that you care enough to ask is all the fixing I need.
So, ask me, “Did you get the guacamole?” This is a question I hope to always answer with a “yes”. I’ll probably ask you the same thing. Be ready.
Photo credit: Pixabay, Stokpic