The Overused Cliches Series by Christian Piatt
Christian Piatt describes himself as an author, speaker, antagonist and God nerd. What Piatt doesn’t know yet is that he’ll have to add Janet’s hero to that list. I discovered Piatt this week when I read his four-part series about often-used Christian cliches. I, along with many others, think Piatt hit a homerun with the series. It has been shares thousands of times around the web and received hundreds of comments, most of them positive.
The cliches he wrote about aren’t just annoying phrases that irritate him because they are used too often, but these are cliches loaded with meaning and sadly often used in ways that bring pain, not love or comfort to others.
I have to admit that at one time or another in the past, I’ve said some of these cliches. But after the accident while going through the physical trauma and depression, many of the cliches Piatt writes about are ones that at best bothered me and at worst sent me deeper into depression.
Allowing myself to go through a spiritual renewal is what saved my sanity and changed my thoughts about many of these cliches. Actually I’ve written about one of them, Everything Happens for a Reason – Really?
Piatt’s first three posts have cliches and the fouth post has antidotes to cliches. I love that Piatt provides antidotes, because most people have good intentions when saying the cliches. No one intents to cause pain, but often people don’t know what else to say.
I’ve picked one point from each post to share here, then please click on the links to read the rest. Do it, seriously! Because if we all learn how these common cliches can hurt others, the world will be a kinder place.
- 10 Cliches Christians Should Avoid
Everything happens for a reason. I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and, if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase. - Piatt
- Ten More Cliches Christians Should Avoid
The Lord never gives someone more than they can handle. What about people with mental illness? What about people in war-torn countries who are tortured to death? What about the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust? And this also implies that, if really horrible things are happening to you, God “gave” it to you. Is this a test? Am I being punished? Is God just arbitrarily cruel? Just don’t say it. – Piatt
- Nine (Final) Christian Cliches to Avoid
When God closes a door, He opens a window. Like some other cliches, this implies that, when something unexpected (and usually bad) happens to you, God did it to you. I know it’s well-meaning, but it’s not helpful in some cases. What about someone who feels like the door has closed on them, and there is no other hope in sight? That person may benefit more from a compassionate ear, a loving heart and a simple “what can I do to help” much more than some phrase that may or may not have any basis in reality. – Piatt
- Ten Antidotes to Christian Cliches
Stop trying to fix everything. Christians hate loose ends. We want to end every conversation with everyone smiling and assured that everything will be just fine. But that’s not always reality, and sometimes, what people need is to grieve, wrestle or reflect rather than feel better and move on. Being a Christian is not about having all the answers at the ready, despite what some evangelism training will tell you. People may even ask for answers, but what we’re all looking for, at a deeper level than our search for those answers, is peace. Sometimes that takes time. – Piatt
Some of you will loudly cheer about what Piatt says about each cliche (or about most), while others of you view some of these cliches as truth and you find Piatt’s dismissal of them a sin.
I don’t think reading this series means anyone has to change their beliefs, but if Christianity is all about good news and love, yet the first thing that too many think of when asked to describe a Christian is hypocritical or judgmental, maybe being more aware of what we say could help.
Whatever your views, leave your thoughts in the comments below… discussion helps us grow.