What to Say When You DON’T Know What to Say

I’m the type of person who always needs an answer for things. And if someone asks me a question, I want to always be able to give them an answer.  But one thing I continue to learn the older I get is that it’s okay to not have an answer for something…

As a teacher and coach, there comes a time when something is said or done and you’re usually the person who always has a response. People look to you for an answer.  Whether it’s a student or a player.  I imagine the same for parents, too.  I often relate stuff to being a parent, (even though I’m not one), because I imagine teaching and coaching is like… well, parenting.  They’re just not my blood!.  I can think of two specific occasions in the past year where something happened and I didn’t know what to say, and something was said and I didn’t know what to say.

Scenario #1:  This past spring during soccer we lost a game in double-overtime to the best team in the conference.  My players were so torn up.  They collapsed on the field.  After the game I took them behind the bleachers to have our post-game talk, and they were all crying.  They were crying out of frustration and disappointment.  They honestly played their hearts out that game,  only to lose in the last six seconds, it was heart breaking. For them as players and for me as a coach.  Not because we lost, but seeing them hurting, hurt me.  I had no idea what to say to them.  What do you say to a group of teenage girls who just lost to the same team in double-overtime that we had JUST lost to the previous season in double-overtime as well?  It was a David vs. Goliath story.  Unfortunately, Goliath prevailed.  I was speechless.  I didn’t want to do the “coach thing” at that moment.  It wasn’t the time.  But I had to say something.  They needed to hear something… so… we prayed.

Scenario #2:  A student approached me at the beginning of class and said his little brother was having heart problems and possibly cancer.  He was telling me this in front of the whole class as people were gathering to their seats, and he asked me about how bad it could get, that if his brother could die from it.  I had no idea what to tell him, plus I didn’t really feel like it was my call to give him any of that information.  Again, I was left almost speechless.  But he was looking to me for a response. I analyzed the situation and tried to deter attention away from him because by now students were beginning to eavesdrop.  We ended up lining up for lunch and I privately whispered to him, “If you need anything let me know.”  I later responded on my own through prayer and asked my friends to pray for him as well.

So what do you say when you don’t know what to say?

  1. Pray.
  2. Pray.
  3. Pray some more.

We don’t always have an answer. But we can always have a response:  Prayer.

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