My gay husband and I divorced earlier this year, and this word is a common reaction from members of the Church. Here are some generalized examples:
"Whatever you do, just don't get divorced."
"Just hang in there. It'll work out."
"Why can't he just not be/feel/act gay?"
"Just think about your kids."
"Mortality isn't that long. You just need an eternal perspective."
"Just trust the Church leaders."
"Can't you just do what so-and-so did? They're still married."
"Just have more faith."
"Maybe you just don't understand or appreciate your covenants enough."
Just do [this]. Just don't do [that].
I'm not blaming anyone here. Honestly, I've used this word "plenty" of times in the last few years, too (toward both Jake and myself). So I'm writing this for myself as much as anyone else.
While a few of the above phrases may not be entirely wrong, not one of them is helpful. Life is rarely as easy or clear-cut as "just" implies.
After these types of reactions, instead of feeling supported, helped, and loved (which is no doubt the intention!), I usually feel judged, shamed, and alone.
Often I find myself thinking one of these thoughts:
If only it were that easy.
They clearly have no clue what this is really like down in the trenches.
Do you think I haven't already thought of and tried that?!
If it works for everyone else, then what's wrong with me?
I don't need anyone to solve this for me, I need to feel heard and validated.
People on the outside of any difficult situation (myself included) have no idea how many layers there are to the onion--all we see is the brown, flaky outer layer, and throw out our best (usually overly-simplistic) solution for removing it.
We're genuinely trying to help, but miss the mark.
Fortunately, I've also experienced positive interactions about our family situation. And you know what? Experiencing love, encouragement, and support (often without one single piece of advice) somehow ends up being immensely helpful in guiding me to find and trust my own answers.
It's incredibly empowering to be and especially to feel seen and validated. No advice necessary.
My purpose here isn't to judge, blame, or give a guilt trip. I just want the compassion you and I are *trying* to express to be the message that is actually *received.*
Awareness is the first step.
Click through the images below for ideas on what to say instead: