Platitudes

Let go and let God. God works in mysterious ways. Jesus died for you. Talk to Him, He loves you. God is always with you. He is the great healer/comforter. Satan lies… I’ll pray for you.

What if I don’t want you to pray for me?

What if you knew that you come off as the epitome of insensitivity when you spew these platitudes to someone who is struggling?

I read a blogpost a couple days ago in which a Christian blogger expressed struggling with her faith – a falling out of faith situation – and just about every comment (over 50 last I looked) had some variation of these platitudes, intermingled with Bible verses and typed out prayers to their Father.

No. No… As someone who went through a similar time, I read every single one of these as missing the point. These people weren’t seeing HER. Yes, yes they called her beautiful child of God blah blah blah… but her feelings were dismissed in favor of mini sermons and cliches that took no real thought. To me it appeared that losing faith was not supposed to be an option for her. These people were ramming the Christianity down her throat and not acknowledging her fears and emotions for the most part.

I’ll pray for you. I’m praying for you. Let’s all communally pray for her. All three variations were used.

How about when someone is teetering on the edge of losing their faith you say “Your feelings are valid – if you want to talk, I’ll listen.” or “I’ve been there – I know how you feel.” Do something.  Don’t pray for me… When one has lost faith that means in prayer too – so your prayers likely mean nothing. You say it’s said with good intentions. I say “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” How’s that for a platitude?

When I left the faith I was lucky to have a handful of really good christian friends that understood and kept the platitudes at bay – they expressed their sadness at my choice, but also saw ME. They cared for ME and they supported ME.  Even in prior years when I struggled with anything faith related these platitudes made me feel more guilty than anything. It caused me to swallow my concerns and step back from my Christian friends who clearly demonstrated that they didn’t care really about me instead of me living up to Christian ideals. It caused me to hide my feelings and not trust them anymore.

I’ve been struggling lately with such things personally again. These insincere statements are used by Christians all over for any little exchange on a daily basis.

Divorce? I’ll pray for you. Lost your house? I’ll pray for you. A relation die? I’ll pray for you… and your family.

Please.

I suppose I have to spell it out: it is especially not helpful if the person you are saying it to doesn’t even share your beliefs. Then again, even when I identified as Christian it almost always seemed as though they were looking past me or over me as a person.

I’ve let some roll off my shoulders recently – especially random seemingly one time incidents. Though I also recently had to tell a relative “Thank you, but I’m not a Christian.” Too many random extended family wanting to reconnect lately and then jumping whole hog into evangelical …everything. Making assumptions… and ugh. Just so many irritating things that would be a complete side note… so. Won’t go there now.

To be fair though, while Christians are the most common offenders of this in my life, plenty of non religious people utilize non religious cliches or platitudes as well to gloss over feelings or people as well.

Maybe they just don’t know what to say. But in my opinion, best not say anything at all. Best to just offer your friendship. Offer to sit with me. Offer to listen to me. Then I would think you actually care – even if you otherwise don’t know what to say.

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5 Comments

  1. I believe I read the same post you did. After about the 5th or 7th comment I had to stop reading. I do not identify as Christian or really any other religious demographic. It does seem though that there are a certain amount of the Christian faith that take it as a personal insult that you are not Christian or have lost faith. I do have other Christian friends that are respectful that I have different views than them. It is very hard for me to be okay with any deity when there is such suffering down here.

    As far as platitudes go, I know that I am guilty of them. It is so easy to make a quick comment to someone on FB that I may not talk to on a regular basis but still care about to write a quick “sending love” message. I know that it isn’t enough, but for me even “i’m here if you need me” is a platitude. I almost always mean what I say whether it is a “sending love” or “if you want to talk i’m here”. I find that it is taken as platitude and that the offer of talking or what have you is not taken on the other side.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I skimmed over the comments knowing they would annoy me – until I decided to write this post then I went back and looked a little closer. It’s true that offering to talk or whatever can also be seen as a platitude as well- though for me that at least indicates that the person hopefully would take the action of talking/listening if the other person decides they need it. At least saying something like that or even sending love – far better than “I’ll pray for you” – takes more into account the person behind the pain, even if it is said when one has nothing else to say. I don’t expect people to be eloquent at all times… sometimes we don’t know how to react appropriately. But I have always preferred someone to acknowledge that and say something more like “I don’t know what to say, but I’m sending you love” or whatever… does that make sense? Also as far as the offer of talking not being taken up… I personally don’t take it as a platitude, I just may not take up such an offer if I just don’t want to talk or don’t know that I feel comfortable going into detail with the particular person… and/or I have so many offers of talking that there’s no point in taking every one up on it lol

      Liked by 1 person

    • Also want to say with “I’ll pray for you” the meaning behind it can be dubious. Are they praying because I’m a sinner and they wish me reformed or wish me to just be ok with Gods plan? Or do they legitimately ask for my suffering to end? Do they actually even pray at all? “Sending Love” and other possible platitudes like that at least indicate you have a persons best interest at heart IMO.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a big grey area for me. I think I’ve used this Tim Minchin quote before, but it’s so true; “the funny thing about a mind is every answer that you find is the basis of a brand new cliché”. I think anything once spoke becomes a platitude as soon as it leaves the speaker’s lips or the typists keyboard. To that end, they’re unavoidable. Avoiding clichés is like avoiding hydrogen atoms. I try not to use them. But at least terms such as “I’m here for you” are positive platitudes. “I’ll pray for you” is negative as fuck. They’re basically saying “I’ll do nothing for you because it’s god’s job to help you, not mine”. All words like that do is show what a poor friend they are and how little they really do care. In times of peril people need people, not fucking prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree… it is hard to not use cliches sometimes and so often when I say something that isn’t the direct quoted cliche, it might just be a different way of saying the same thing… but you also definitely get the point I was trying to convey: don’t pray for me; actions not words! Even if I (or whoever the words are aimed at) doesn’t take up the offer of the action – at least they know you cared enough to offer of yourself

      Liked by 1 person

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