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If you've ever gone through a hard time, you know that the crowd around you responds according to their own hearts, not according to what you need from them. Recently going through some difficulty myself, I've experienced three types of respondents.

  1. The Uncurious - These people have so much going on in their own lives, they don't have time for my pain. I don't blame them because I've had my own busy times. They usually make some sort of simplistic judgement about what I'm going through based on their own experience plus the few details they've caught wind of and then move on.

  2. The Ravenously Curious - This crew really wants to know all the dirty details. They pry, they ask around for gossip. They assume my story is nothing like their own. They consume morsels of my pain like dessert. Getting info seems to make them somewhat giddy. Sometimes they say kind-sounding things like, "I'm praying for you," but those feel really icky to receive. Sometimes they seem to be asking for specific data that would confirm their condemnation.

  3. The Gently Curious - These people seem rare. They listen and accept my story as I tell it. They might ask questions; it feels like they are trying to understand. They seem set on just being with me while I figure out my own life. They appear to avoid judging and validate where they can. They wait patiently for me to ask them for their opinions, rather than voicing them unsolicited. Their responses actually feel kind and graceful. They make safe space for my pain, believe that it is real and have compassion for it. They respect my timing and right to my own story.

You can't fake your heart in these types of situations. Whoever you are comes out in your responses. I have certainly been all three types of these respondents, but going through my current trial I am resolved to be #3 as much as possible in the future. I want to be the kind of person who makes space for others' pain and has time to hear the stories that are ready to be told. Lord, please make me gently curious.

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