Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is There Any Way to Help?

The beginning of May always brings it back... that difficult season, lived long ago, at this very time of year. Like it was yesterday, I remember it all. It had been a horrible couple weeks and I was depressed and discouraged and completely devoid of hope. It was 14 years ago this week. And it was bad.

We didn't have kids yet but the days were still quite full. I was teaching first grade, volunteering at Trinity Christian College and serving on committees at church. There were so many things going on in my world and the busyness of the days helped to distract from the hard times we were enduring.

From the outside in, we looked okay. Mark and I functioned and accomplished tasks and most people had no idea what has happening inside. But, it was one of those seasons that lasts too long and leaves you broken in its wake.

We were new to email then and a friend of mine and I had exchanged a couple emails about the hard season we were in. There were no details shared... just a prayer request, a hint into our sadness, carefully chosen words that didn't really tell the tale.

On a Monday night, I had to be at a local event that would attract a crowd. I didn't want to go. I didn't have it in me. But, I headed out anyway did what I said I would do. I would help.

As the event began, my email friend arrived, though neither of us knew the other would be there that night. I stood in the back of the auditorium, maintaining physical and emotional distance from the crowd. My friend came and stood beside me, and quietly took her seat.

The event began and I took a breath, checked my watch and settled in for a while. Within two hours, I could be home. Go back to bed. Sit in my sadness alone.

What happened next affected me more than I can explain. The effort was small, the love was great and the impact of it all brings tears to my eyes tonight, even all these many years later. What happened?

Sitting in that crowded hall, my dear friend reached over and took my hand. She gently took my hand.

She knew the day was hard. She knew the season was long. She didn't know the details of all that was happening but she knew I was weary and sad. And she made a decision to enter into it all with me. In reaching out, she lowered the guard she could hold on her own life and allowed the mess of mine to splash freely onto her.

For several minutes, she held my hand and I blinked back my tears. I was not alone. I was not alone. I was not alone.

When she let go, she asked me nothing. She did not fill the space with words. In the midst of a difficult time, words offered would have left wounds behind. There is selfishness present in some asking... an entitlement to own another's story that is far less important than the healing a simple act can offer up.

I learned a lot that night. A lot about how we live with our families and friends. We spend a lot of time protecting ourselves. We wall off the pain of others hoping that the distance will keep our small worlds safe. We talk too much, ask too much, demand too much and in doing so run pell mell over the fragile pieces of someone else's life.

But, my friends, this is a choice. What might it look like if we choose something else instead? Do you know someone who is hurting? Someone discouraged, depressed, disengaged? Do you wonder what you can do?

Fourteen years ago, I stood alone in the midst of a difficult path. But one Monday night, healing began. A simple act of grace and love changed the way I saw my life. A dear friend took my hand. She asked for nothing but offered much. With no words exchanged, I remembered what it felt like to be loved and noticed and embraced and seen. I was offered hope. The hand of a friend, gently in mine, reminded me how God loves His children on earth.

My favorite passage in the Bible says that God's ability and desire to suffer alongside us is new every morning. Every. Single. Morning. He comes in close and puts out His hand and loves us in a way that changes what we see. What an amazing example of love and sacrifice He has given us to follow as we seek to enfold one another.

Do you know someone in pain? Someone who needs, who hurts, who is lost? Do you wonder what you can do? What if the thing that is most needed today is your willingness to enter in? Can we do that? Can we come alongside and ask nothing at all and let ourselves connect to what breaks someone else? The risk is great to our daily lives... but the blessing we offer is nothing less than Divine.

Blessings on your day.


M. Scott said...

Thanks for this post. I needed to hear this. :)

Stephanie said...

Love it, Nad. Beautifuly written. Beautiful picture of caring for others. Love you!

Charity said...

Thank you. I am in tears. This is exactly what I need right now for the path I am on as I care for those who are deeply hurting in my life! You put it just right - sometimes words are not necessary, but entering into the pain is - difficult, yes, but the most giving. Thank you, thank you!