What We Say To Someone Who Is Hurting Is No “Juking” Matter

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I first came across the word “juking” a couple of years ago  when my college aged daughter brought it to my attention. At the time Darbi was a communications major at Moody Bible. When she was home on vacation she explained to me about this interesting term. I was floored to discover that there was such a fitting description of over-spiritualizing every conversation. In fact, juking is just that–somehow turning every piece of communication into a spiritual principle, direction or cliche.

As she explained it to me in depth I realized I myself had been guilty of being a juker. After all, that was the Christian culture that I came from; every body Jesus–juked. It was what was expected–especially from those in leadership. We felt compelled to add a fitting spiritual platitude to every subject, pain or trial. And it didn’t just stop there, we brought it home. We taught our children to juke. They could turn around and juke with the best them.

Here’s what I discovered. Saying the right spiritual things all the time does not make anyone a better Christian or necessarily help the other person. In fact being around a juker can get quite annoying. When someone is down the last thing they want to hear is an over spiritualized pep-talk. Sometimes they just need a reassuring hug and to hear the words “I am sorry for what you are going through” and that’s it. Saying little can carry more weight than saying more. Of course, telling them we will pray for them is crucial and is not juking, unless we really don’t pray–then it is. It’s okay not to have the answers…God is the one who has the answers. Spending some time in prayer puts us in a better position to gain spiritual insight to convey. We mustn’t feel anxious or compelled one way or the other God can minister effectively with or without us. Most people simply need a listening ear.

Interestingly, juking can come in many forms. It may be denominational or it could be a spiritual emphasis of a church community. For instance if a church has an evangelical focus that often will show up in conversations–mission becomes the mindset with its various catch words. If the culture is more conservative–reformed becomes the mindset with its own array of catch terms. Perhaps it is a more liberal culture– then Spirit-led becomes the mindset and has its own set of catch phrases. You see where I am going with this. And if we think we are off the hook (those of us who have the mindset of grace) we are just as guilty in juking that theme as well. In fact, I could easily put all these words into a sentence and come up with the ultimate juke. It  is not that any of these words and bad, they are very good and biblical. But they can become empty of meaning when rattled repetitively in every conversation.

I thought it particularly revealing that it is the millennial generation that has picked up on this trend. The more I investigated these young minds the more I discovered why they we so keen to this phenomenon, even to the point of giving it a title. They are not an easily fooled group. They are realist and are not impressed with overly spiritualized words, fads or trends in the Christian world. In fact, they are turned off by the pretense of it all. They are seeking genuineness. They want to know its okay to be real and seek God. They are checking by see if our the reality of our lives reflect our faith, not our words, ministries, or positions.

What brought this to the surface of my mind more vividly was a recent post on a Facebook page I run. It is replete with spiritual and uplifting messages, and for good reason. We live in a very broken world and our hearts long for a refreshing word. However, when I posted a particular quote I found on the Internet I was intrigued by the response.

It that said,

“One of these days, I’m going to answer, ‘No. I am actually not okay.’ And no one is going to know what to do.”

Some of the women responded and agreed no one would know what to do. In the Christian community we are so used to putting on a spiritual smile and saying the right spiritual phrases even when we are hurting. We wouldn’t dare think about saying something as transparent as “no, I am not actually okay.” And we certainly don’t think about responding in similar manner– like, “you know what…it’s okay not to be okay.” We forget that we are not only Christians, we are humans. We will have pain and suffering, and we won’t always feel okay. We won’t always have answers either. This doesn’t make us any less of a spiritual. We are all equally saved and covered in His righteousness. If we happen to be feeling down generally the last thing that will help is a theology lesson.

I found in my own season of hurting words of encouragement didn’t come through people, but rather two books on suffering. Like a healing balm these books ministered to my heart effectively. They were both filled with words that brought clarity and direction in a time when I was not feeling so okay. If you are in this place–and we all will be at some point–I encourage you to look into these two resources and others that are similar. You need to know it’s okay not to feel okay–don’t take on guilt…on top of pain. Turn to resources that reflects both genuineness, transparency and faith. After all, going through pain is nothing to “juke” about.

-Paula Masters

Book Recommendations:

Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free

God’s Cure For The Broken Heart

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