When The Right Thing to Say Isn’t

Sometimes people just need to be heard.  They need to be listened to and understood, even when they’re wrong in their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.  Often I want to fix things and set them straight, but often the right thing to say isn’t. At least it isn’t the right time to say them.

If a friend’s car overheats on the interstate, while it would be correct to tell him, “You should have had that check engine light checked out,” I would probably be wrong for saying it at that moment.  If a husband is “fixing” a leaky faucet and actually makes the leak worse than it was originally, while she’d be correct, a wife might not want to say, “You really should have just called the plumber; now it’s going to cost even more to get it fixed.” And when a wife and/or is feeling unappreciated, used, neglected, or alienated, a husband would be correct in reminding her that she is appreciated and one day 20 years down the road she will see the fruit of her labor, but that’s not what she needs to hear.

Sometimes being correct and being right are different things.  The timing is wrong, the words are hollow, annoying, and even damaging.  Remember, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions,” (Proverbs 18:2, HCSB).  There is time to set the record straight when a person is not in the thick of the circumstance.  Wait until then to be correct. You’ll be right too!  Until then empathize, love, cherish, respect, and encourage.  Pray with the person, not just for them, but pray, don’t preach through prayer.  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral exellence, and if there is any praise–dwell on these things,” (Phil 4:8, HCSB)