What not to say

by adustyframe ~ September 19th, 2007

Have you ever watched “What not to wear?” It’s a funny show, although I’d be mortified to be nominated.

They laugh and tease people showing them how absurd their clothing is, but in the end it was all for their good and they come out looking like a million bucks.

I think we need a “What not to say” show. Maybe we won’t laugh at you too obnoxiously, but it would be refreshing to point out to people the absurdity of their questions!

I’ve been mulling over in my mind a post about this.

Often I try to be very careful what I post. I don’t want it to sound like whining or “my problem is worse than yours” (Oh I despise that game that people play!)

I read this post and thought, “If she can do it so nicely so can I!”

The Deputy Headmistress said,

“I get so many irritating questions from people I think should know better, and I try to be charitable, but really- people, even perfectly lovely, sweet, nice people, feel that anything they are curious about simply must be their business, and you know, it really isn’t. I do not really say any of these things, mostly. But the things in quotes are things you really don’t need to ask.”
& this“I know we’re all just curious. But we do not have a right to have our curiosity regarding other people’s personal, private family matters satisfied. This is not because there is something ‘shameful’ about that private information, but because nosiness is not good manners.”


So without further ado, here are my “not to say” things.

1. Do you get conjugal visits?

Oh my word! How tacky is that anyway?

I don’t ask people about their intimate relationships.

2. What did he do?

If I wanted to share that with you I would. It really doesn’t matter. The trial isn’t any better or worse for me if you know is it?

Pastor summed it up well for me the other day when I told him I saw my neighbor there as a guard.

“He did something, he’s paying for it, God is changing him, end of story. If they don’t like it that’s their problem.”

(Thank you, Pastor!)

3. I wish I had some time in jail. I’d love a vacation.

No you don’t and that is an incredibly stupid thing to say.

4. Must be nice sitting in a country club.


5. God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

At one point, I literally said I was going to slap the next person that said that to me.

Maybe you could say, “I’ll pray for you that God will show his grace and strength in your life.” Much more comforting.

6. You haven’t been willing to serve.

I have been willing.

Sometimes I’m not able.

That is between me and God.

My mother said, “Honey, people who haven’t been through these kinds of trials don’t realize that some days breathing takes all the energy you have.”

7. You’re only homeshooling one.

Yes and your point is what? That somehow it’s less of a commitment or that I am not a real homeschooler? Want to trade places?

8. Just do XYZ

People have such simple solutions. Sometimes I think it’s because they want to help. Sometimes I think it’s because they don’t have a clue.

Just do more Ebay,

You should be walking to work,

You should homeschool at the store,

Well how hard is it to just….

The hard thing about these comments is that if I try to explain why something won’t work, it appears that I’m making excuses or that I’m not willing to listen.

Most of the time the person telling me what I should be doing is the one not listening.

I wish I was bold enough to say,

Just what part of I’m homeschooling, single parenting, running a business, and trying to keep my marriage together do you not understand? “

9. I wish someone would give me (fill in the blank with any one of the blessings God has sent our way.)

I wonder if they want my trials too? Or just the blessings?The thing is God blesses us in this trial. People weren’t randomly giving me money, or bringing me things I need, or helping me with car repairs, or free babysitting when my husband was home working.

Here is another post that explains how trials change you. I remember reading this and shaking my head yes!

So there you have it. I hope I was “nice” enough! I wrote this a loooooong time ago and have re-worked it and sat on it for awhile.

I try to be careful what I post when I’m upset so you can be guaranteed that I’m not upset about anything now if I’m posting this!




17 Thoughts Shared to What not to say

  1. Joyful Days

    Oh Lizzie!! I am so sorry people have running mouth disease. It amazes me constantly what comes out of people’s mouths. I’ve had some “helpful” comments lately too, in a very different context.

    Sometimes “I’m praying for you.” sounds so trite, but I would rather be trite than rude.

    Your post was eloquent and thoughtful and thought provoking.

    In Him,


    Julie thanks so much for letting me know how it came across. I was praying it wouldn’t sound snippy.
    You’re right. I’m praying for you would be an encouragement!

  2. Susanna

    Great post and not at all rude. I cannot believe number one! You what!!!????? That is outrageous! I am probably guilty of the ‘God does not give us more than we can handle ‘ one…although I have never said it in an off hand way and frequently have to tell it to myself when I am having a tough time. Maybe it is the kind of things you need to know deep in your own heart but not have stuffed down your throat – after all, it gives hope and an end in sight but does not make the actual trial easier to bear.
    The point is a lack of self control and discipline. There are a myriad of things I have been tempted to ask others in the past- but it just plain isn’t any of my business! You are quite right- if someone wants to share something then they will.
    Have a happy day :)………….Oh, and if any one thinks this post is rude then they obviously have no idea who you are 🙂

    Thanks, Susanna!

  3. Janean

    I only wish I were as tactful and graceful as you. I use my blog to whine and complain because all my real-time friends are tired of listening to me. 😀 I hope you will forgive me.
    Everything you said is spot-on.
    And AMEN TO NUMBER 5. I’ve often said if that were true then I really wish God did not have such a high opinion of me! Breathing, yes, I can do that today.


  4. Beth

    Excellent post. Very well written. Love you Lizzie!! You all are in our prayers daily.

    Thank you, Beth for your prayers. They mean so much to us!

  5. Kari

    Oh, Lizzie!

    *Heavy Sigh* I am so sorry for your hurting heart.

    Honestly, it wasn’t so very long ago I was the one saying really dumb things like that. The Lord really shook me up when I was convicted of it. I couldn’t believe all the things I had said when I finally realized how dumb and tactless I had been. All. These. Years. In part, it’s my ADHD. Truly. I never “caught on” that these things were completely inappropriate. Mama asked such questions…(But then, yeah, she is where my ADHD came from!!)…so I just followed her lead. Kind of sad when you don’t start to learn tact until your mid-thirties!

    I do think part of this is societal, too. What with blogs and tv reality shows, etc., etc. we’ve become a nation with fewer and fewer boundaries.

    I am just really humbled by your tact and your heart in this post. I could never have done so well. They are important lessons we need to learn – and to pass on to our children. They’re learning so much more just by our example.

    Praying for you, and learning from you,
    In Christ alone,

    Thank you, Kari for sharing. Yes, sometimes people haven’t been taught to be polite. That I understand.

  6. Lady Why

    I have been reading your blog for a while and I find such encouragement in your testimony and how you are living out your faith as you walk through this trial. You are an inspiration!

    But, on this post I had to comment! I have received rude (OK, sometimes VERY rude) comments and questions of an intimate nature regarding the number of children we have. We have found the best retort is a bit of a disapproving look and the words, “Excuse me?”

    That generally gets the message across that what they just asked is very inappropriate and – more importantly – NOT going to be answered! 😉

    Lady Why, thanks for commenting! Don’t be a stranger;)
    That’s a good way to deal with it. I think I read somewhere in a manners article that if people ask rude things it’s ok to make them see how rude they were. I don’t usually point out their rudeness although I probably should.

  7. Joy

    This was a great post. It was a good reminder to control the tongue. Your right, half the stuff people ask about it none of their business! Makes me look at myself and wonder if I have been the one asking things that aren’t any of my business???!!!! By the way…about the pumpkin you knitted…very nice!!! does that get me out of the dog house??? =)

    Thanks, Joy. About the pumpkin, now I think you’re just saying that. I’ll have to think about it;)

  8. Chel

    I am continually amazed at the things people will say to one another. From my perspective, the trials I’ve endured were made lighter and more bearable by those who came and were quiet and content with me where I was at the time rather than by those who pointed out all of the ways in which I could improve the situation. The greatest compassion is rarely wrapped in simplistic answers.

    Chel, I am blessed to have some friends that way. They are a real blessing.

  9. Chel

    I knew there was something else I wanted to say! 🙂 First, sorry about the crazy italics. I shouldn’t try fancy stuff like that.

    And… I think it’s incredibly foolish for any of us to compare our suffering. What is easy for you might be unbearable for me and vice versa. The suffering and trials and learning and all of that is very personal and individual to each of us. God could hardly teach each of us out there the same lesson in the same way because He made each of us unique.

    I agree. I get tired of people trying to prove to me that what they’re dealing with is so much worse. Ok whatever. Want to trade places?

  10. GIGI

    First off….AMEN!!!!!! Now, about people asking,” what did he do”, I used to just tell the person that I really didn’t want to get into it. Now, I tell them while I’m looking them straight in the eye, and watch the curiosity fade right to “maybe this wasn’t any of my business”. It’s like….in your face nosey person. Now you can mull it over in your mind or with someone in a gossip session and come to your own conclusions or whatever you wanted to do with the information in the first place. Why does someone need to know anyway???? I’m really not angry, I’m tired. I too am a prison widow, and those who have not been there simply do not have a clue. We will survive!!!
    And love conquers all.


  11. Jenn

    I agree with Kari’s point. I think that all the reality TV shows and such have made society feel like they have the right to know every intimate detail of everyone’s lives. There is no privacy any more, it seems.

    Very tactfully put. Not taken as whining at all.

  12. Revka

    Great post, Lizzie. I have dealt with the insensitive comments after I miscarried our first child, and, frankly, I wanted to wallop some of the people! This is a much nicer and very helpful approach.

    Five is the only one I might possibly say or think. I like how you provided a better option for us. 🙂

    Still praying…

    Thank you:)

  13. Jacci M

    Thank you for commenting on my blog 🙂 I came by to read a little of yours and I think I found the right post to give me that little window into Lizzy. It takes no small amount of tact to communicate something like that and do it so graciously. You didn’t sound snippy at all, honey. You sound like someone I’d like to know 🙂

    BTW, I don’t let my kids watch Care Bears, either 😉

    Thanks, Jacci! Thanks for letting me know you don’t watch Care Bears either;) Thanks for your kind comments.

  14. deputyheadmistress

    Great post! You were quite kind.

    And let me confess that I am often curious about things that are absolutely none of my business. I just try to squelch any inclination to actually ASK about those things. We, as a society, somehow crossed a line from ‘it’s normal to be curious’ (it is) to ‘everybody is obligated to satisfy our curiosity.’
    It’s hard to be grown ups sometimes.=)

    Oh! Thank you for stopping by and saying that. I was trying to be like you:).

    I’m curious about things too! However, my Mother taught us how to speak and behave with others and that some things really are none of our business and are quite rude to ask. I wish others had a mom like mine!

  15. Brenda@Coffee Tea Books and Me

    People have asked me if we did something to bring a curse on us. Sheesh…

    I agree with your mom. I have told people that when one is in the midst of an unimaginable trial, you have to remind yourself to breath!

    Someone asked you if you did something to bring on a curse? OH GOODNESS! Sometimes people need to shut their mouths! Good grief!
    I’m sorry someone said that to you:(

  16. Hopeful Spirit

    Lizzie, I just realized that I called you “Lee” in my prior comment. Sorry! (I’m tired.)

    This is an honest, refreshing post.

    People are naturally curious and it causes their mouths and brains to get out of sync. You have presented your responses with grace and elegance. No need to apologize.

    Your post is a great service to many folks. I gave you a Stumble. 🙂

    That’s ok;) Thank you.

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