We all know how it is-you move, you lose an address or phone number, you lose touch.
But sometimes friendships end more abruptly-not because lives drifted apart but because one person became so uncomfortable she chose to walk the other way.
That’s what happens so often the other side of child loss. Friends disappear because loss makes them profoundly uncomfortable.
I get it-I’m a walking reminder that if it happened to me, it can happen to you.
You don’t know what to say when the tears flow. You feel helpless in the face of my helplessness. You are afraid my questions might weaken your faith.
And after months of avoiding me you feel guilty.
But may I tell you something? I still need you.
It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect words. Your presence is what lifts my spirits.
I won’t chastise you for your absence.
We’ve all been there-something traumatic or earth-shattering happens to someone we know and we mean to get in touch.
I put “write a note” or “call” on my list and then don’t do it.
Days, weeks months pass by. Now I feel awkward.
And the need to let her know I care is overshadowed by my sense of shame at not doing it sooner.
But it is NEVER too late to be a friend!
I won’t let pride stand between me and someone I love. I won’t allow fear to keep me away from a heart that needs help.
Maybe my outstretched hand will be exactly the hope someone needs to hold on to?
Oh, how I need to learn to practice the pause!
I’m getting better, but still react when I should reflect.
I need to do this EVERY time.
Lord, help my stubborn heart slow down and give me grace to yield and allow You to melt it, mold it and make it more like Your own! ~ ❤
Often this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death is dark and lonely.
I am frightened of what may lay in wait-tragedy has visited once, it could come again.
I know Jesus is my Shepherd and I never doubt His companionship. But if I’m honest, as much as I lean into that truth, it’s oh, so helpful to have a living, breathing human being walk with me.
So when a friend reaches out and takes my trembling hand it calls courage to my heart.
When we huddle together in the dark places, waiting out the storm of grief or doubt, it gives me strength to carry on.
Never, never underestimate the power of presence.
For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face, and now we know in part, but then we shall know fully just as we have been fully known
I Corinthians 13:12
So until then, what?
We feel our way in the dark.
Until we find each other.
We huddle together in the storm.
Wet and shivering, but together.
And maybe in the end it will be our huddling in the storm that gives us more comfort than our understanding of the storm.”
~Ken Gire, The Weathering Grace of God
The best way to help a struggling heart is to simply be available.
Anyone can choose to be a safe space for others to share their hearts.
Anyone can make room for honest conversation, welcoming another soul to unburden itself of whatever heaviness is weighing it down.
All it takes is a listening ear and time.
You’d think that being on the other side of untimely or even painful comments would shape my conversation so that I am not the one blurting out hurtful or thoughtless words.
Sadly, that’s not the case.
While I am much more careful about what I say and how and when I say it, I still put my foot in it on a regular basis.
I talk instead of listen-rushing ahead to share MY pain instead of sitting silently while someone else shares theirs.
I make comparisons instead of extending boundless compassion.
I focus too much on the words and not enough on the wordless communication of facial expression and body language.
I try to “fix” the problem or person instead of simply being present.
I overwhelm a hurting heart with too much information. Even good information delivered from a firehose instead of a water fountain is unhelpful.
I interrupt, cut people off, turn away and shorten uncomfortable conversations.
I want to do better.
I want to be the safe space hurting hearts need.
I want to be full of grace and mercy and kindness.
I know I fall short, but I’m still learning.
We say we want real.
But we really don’t.
We tune in by the millions to watch “reality TV” even though we know the drama is manufactured and the outcome decided months before.
We participate daily in quiet subterfuge when our coworker pretends her marriage isn’t falling apart even though we overhear her desperate phone calls trying to mend it.
We like to hear “Fine, thank you.” when we offer the polite greeting, “How are you?”.
What happens to the person who refuses to play along? What about the one whose heart is so broken that she can’t begin to put on the false front that would make everyone else more comfortable around her?
What do you do when someone stops pretending everything is OK?
Often, people walk away.
Because we have absolutely no idea what to do with real. We have no words when “How are you?” is answered with “Awful. My world is falling apart.”
We reward those who choose to go along with the script that makes us comfortable and isolate the ones that don’t.
But is that the world we really want to live in? Do we want to walk with unsaid words between us, unreleased feelings bottled up and threatening to overflow?
It is really more admirable to pretend?
MASKS by Shel Silverstein
She had blue skin
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by —
And never knew.