I’m learning that on some level, everyone has to learn things for themselves. You can’t expect someone to “get it” just by hearing it one time. Everyone has their own journey to walk, mistakes to make, and revelations to experience. While it’s true that your words will help steer them, odds are they won’t instantly transport them to the final destination.
This can be both freeing and agonizing. Freeing in the sense that you realize their fate doesn’t rest on your shoulders – agonizing in the realization that you can only help them so much.
Take a look back on your own journey – how have you gotten to where you are today? You probably started with a lot of different opinions and beliefs. But it wasn’t until life happened, crisis hit, and joy was found that you realized how some of those held true and some fell to the wayside.
I’ve found this true for myself. There were a lot of things people told me during our first year of marriage that didn’t click until later on, but I was so glad those things were said. They were sitting in the back of my mind somewhere, just waiting to be recalled and applied. I’ve also invested a lot of time listening to podcasts, said a lot of prayers, and had a lot of in-depth conversations with my husband that all aided in getting us to where we are today. They are all different steps in the journey.
The best thing we can do for our brothers and sisters in the faith is to know God, pursue Him deeply, and listen to His leading. A sweet friend of mine brought up in small group one night how we cannot know the answer in every situation, and that’s okay. We aren’t meant to. All we need to do is look to God in every moment and take our cues from Him. In doing that, He will help us navigate. He will give us the right encouraging word to say, constructive advice to give, or the restraint to say nothing at all. And in doing so we will get to know His voice – isn’t that the entire goal of our faith anyway?
Every part of life is a step in a journey that is specific to the individual walking it. Everything you say to that individual helps to guide them in one way or another: towards hope or discouragement, right or wrong, life or death. Knowing this, let’s choose to be wise with our words by first seeking the Lord, and in every opportunity point them towards a growing relationship with Him.