Has someone close to you ever experienced something tragic? Have you felt responsible to be there for them? Instinct would be to go through the motions of being a good friend—calling or texting them to check in, letting them know you are available for them, or even going out of your way to serve them. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right words to say.
“I know how you feel.” Five words uttered far too often when tip-toeing around conversation with a person who has just experienced loss, tragedy, or possibly someone who is generally going through a difficult season in their life. Five words that typically have great intention behind them but can convey a message of assumption and unawareness. Saying “I know how you feel” insinuates that you know what someone is thinking, feeling or experiencing daily. It is important to empathize with a person knowing that you have been through a similar experience. However, it is dangerous to assume we know every thought and every emotion that someone else may be experiencing during their unique circumstance.
See, we all go through trials and tribulation in our life. In John 16:33, Jesus says we undoubtedly will experience them. Some of these challenges will look similar to other people’s challenges, because we’re all experiencing the same world. However, that’s not to say that we will all experience these similar sufferings the exact same way. We were all individually created, each with our own genetic make-up, our own unique responses to life, and very diverse spiritual perspectives. God created us uniquely, so we all respond to life uniquely. Our battles will appear the same, yet we will fight them differently.
I have certainly been guilty of uttering these words countless times. Now, I know how it feels to be on the other side of that message. The following verse illustrates the responsibility we have to be there for one another in an empathetic way: “Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22 ESV)
Instead of uttering the five words, and possibly leaving them up for a confusing interpretation, I encourage a method of love. A method of encouragement that points your loved ones to Jesus and the Kingdom. One that strengthens their soul. This could look like praying for them behind the scenes or praying with them in the moment. It could look like encouraging them not to lose their faith or reminding them of the power of surrendering their spirit. Show them that every tragic thought, will be heard by a God who brings comfort and peace. It could look like serving them, the way Jesus would. Showcase generosity and love: make them dinner, do their laundry, take them out to coffee, or help them find professional assistance if they are interested. Never forceful or aggressive.
Love is the answer. Grace and subtle service is the answer. Not waiting around for your loved one to reach out to you is the answer. “I know how you feel” doesn’t foster peace or shift perspective. It can’t sew up their wounds. God created us to love on people whole-heartedly and genuinely. The best part is, God provides all the tools to love on those around you. Love strengthens the heart and soul. Love, through action, goes beyond limits and breaks barriers that words simply cannot. I invite you today to act in love for those around you who are broken, hurting, grieving, and losing complete direction. Your act of love can be the very reason they rise out of the darkness into light. From the ashes into life.
And for those of you, on the other side of the uttered words, I encourage you to understand that there is SO much love behind those words. It may not seem like it at first, but often people are trying so hard not to hurt you or offend you. You are so loved. What you are going through is not easy, and your suffering cannot be diluted. But know that there is hope in He who experienced the most uncomfortable suffering. You are worth the love, you are worth a second wind; and this, my sweet friend, is not the end.
My name is Crystal Wojdyla (VOY-DEE-WAH). That’s a little difficult to say, so feel free to just say Wojo (WHOA-JOE)! I am a writer, fitness enthusiast, passionate speaker and dreamer always pointing to the name of Jesus.
Now, to be transparent, nothing in this world makes me happier than a book in hand and a cup of coffee that’s darker than night. I enjoy runs along Lake Michigan, traveling, and making people do burpees. Just kidding. I am, however, in the process of becoming an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and love all things fitness.
I was born and raised in the city of Chicago; sometimes it’s beautiful, and other days it’s winter! But a Chicago gal, I shall always be. I am blessed to be married to a phenomenal, God-fearing man, who goes by the name of Anthony August. My home church is @peoplechurch in Chicago. We are always looking to connect Jesus to people and people to Jesus.
Above all, nothing screams Crystal more than my love for Jesus. Through all the challenges and changes I have encountered in this lifetime, I know one thing that remains consistent: my passion for articulating God’s heart to His people. I pray one day to speak globally and write countless books to show people the IMPOSSIBLE that God is capable of.
I’m a trailblazer because I speak boldly in my writing the truths that God has revealed to me in my relationship with Him, in hopes of guiding others into their own personal encounter with Him.
Connect with Crystal on Instagram: