We’ve all been the recipient of a pat answer, and probably given them out ourselves too. Christians are just as good at giving them out as anyone.
- You just need to get over it.
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
- Eat less and exercise!
- If it happened, it must have been the Lord’s will.
- Be happy you still have…
- Think on what is true.
- Just pray and read your Bible.
- Be consistent.
The thing about most of these types of answers is that they are true, therefore the bearer of the pat answer feels justified and even quite spiritual at delivering such an answer. Even though the phrase may be true, I think that generally it is wrong to give them out. What? How can they be wrong if they are true?
I think they are usually wrong because they are generally delivered without love, care, or concern for the person. When someone comes to me with something they are struggling with or sin in their life, they have just willingly become vulnerable. It’s humbling to reach out to someone for help. The last thing they probably need is a slap of truth as I walk away feeling great that I gave a spiritual answer. Yes, we need to speak truth and help someone see where they are wrong at times, but not by a pat answer. We need to speak the truth in love, bearing one another’s burdens.
I think pat answers are usually spoken out of self righteousness. If someone comes to me with an issue that I have struggled with or am struggling with, the responses are much more along the lines of, “Wow I’ve been there. I know it’s hard. I’m having a tough time with that too. Let’s pray for each other. Here is what has helped me. Why don’t we do a Bible study together? When that happened to me, the verse that really spoke to my heart was… What can I do for you? How can I help?” It seems to me that pat answers come most often when a person hasn’t struggled in those areas. Without even realizing it, we’re self righteous. We minimize the struggle or sin issue of someone else as simple since it’s not a temptation of ours. My struggle with anger isn’t somehow more legitimate than someone else’s struggle with worry. Both actually demonstrate a lack of trust in God. When I remember that my sin nailed Jesus to the cross, it’s a lot more difficult to be self righteous when it comes to other people’s sin.
Oh well, then there is always the person that has absolutely no idea what to say so they just end up blurting out a pat answer and hoping for the best. I know I’ve been there too! When I am the recipient of a pat answer, I try to give the person the benefit of the doubt and put them in this category–bless their hearts! 🙂
As I’ve been pondering the whole pat answer issue, I realize that I have been guilty of all these ways of giving pat answers: without love, in self-righteousness, and sometimes out of sheer helplessness of knowing what to say. But I don’t want to be that way. Would that I could always speak the truth in love!
When I was younger I too could lose my temper quite easily. This was due to a terrible
childhood that left me very angry. But, too it was due to poor eating. I have since discovered
I am very calm if I eat three meals a day with snacks. Next time you are feeling angry, ask yourself
when you last ate? Go eat something and, sing a happy song for just a few minutes. You might
find, as I did that your cortisol levels were too high. When our blood sugar is dropping cortisol
kicks in to raise the blood sugar. Trouble is cortisol is the same hormone released in a fight or
flight mode. High stress mode. Then you are like a time bomb, just waiting to explode. Oh,
coffee increases this too. Coffee, increased fluids, can also lower your blood sugar. I have to
watch to not dilute myself with fluids.
Oh, I should add. For me I need to eat a fruit or something with sugar in it.
A salad or, beans or, raw veggie doesn’t raise blood sugar. Eat some fruit if you
want a healthy snack. Too, add in some nuts so the body will remain balanced
longer. Yogurt is a good snack too. Cheese with fruit.
Or, a candy bar when you want to splurge. 🙂
Try to start your morning with a carb breakfast. Oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc..
Always eat early. Cortisol is naturally higher in the am. The longer you put off
eating the higher the cortisol can go.
Too, are you sleeping well? Do you wake often to urinate? This is all related symptoms.
Betty, Thank you! This is so interesting. While I was just using “anger” as an example, not really thinking about me and anger, I do struggle with it more than I ever thought I would. What you said makes a lot of sense. I tried a “cleanse” juice diet once and on the third day I thought I was losing my mind. Finally wondering if the diet had something to do with it, I ate a regular meal and instantly felt normal again. I DO tend to skip breakfast many times just because I’m running like a crazy person. Many times when I evaluate my anger with the children, I realize it’s a result of my bad parenting…ie not being consistent. Ha ha!
I was talking with a friend who was wrestling with something once, and I tried to encourage her during those rough few weeks but also told her what the Bible had to say about the matter. She dismissed it by calling it a “pat answer.”
I totally agreed with everything you said, but I also realize that some people hear truth and don’t want to accept what God has to say on the matter and so they call it a “pat answer.” My friend says that she wrestles with God over certain issues and they are just difficult for her to accept, and so it’s hard for her to simply take and trust Him at His word. She wants to know the why and when and where of things, and when He does something she doesn’t understand, it’s hard for her just to accept His wisdom and trust him.
I think the key is to “speak the truth in love,” which is what you said and is Scriptural too! Bonus! 😉 Not just merely quote scripture or throw facts at them and walk away, but stay and be willing to be a part of the process with them.