Sunday, June 4, 2017

To My Grieving Friend

Dear Friend,
I see you. I see your suffering. The weight of what you bear does not go unnoticed, unrecognized, or unappreciated.

And what might be hardest is there's nothing I can do to ease your pain. There's literally nothing to say that sounds right or appropriate or that doesn't need to be qualified in some way. So very often, I purposely choose to say nothing at all. I deliberately censor my conversations and catch myself correcting my phrasing as the words are coming out. And because I love you so deeply, part of me longs to not do this, to be care-freely honest as friends should be, but then I also love you so much I know that a gentle, tenderness and an understanding spirit are also needed. Honesty and discernment can still go hand in hand.

I never want to intentionally cause you more pain. So if I do, please forgive me and offer me the benefit of the doubt.

The truth is you're not the same person that you were before this grief consumed you. I don't expect you ever will be again. It will mark your story for the rest of your days. I know this, and yet, sometimes my heart skips a little when I see a glimmer of the old you, only to realize that's not fair and not true and not loving because the desire to see that person is completely selfish on my part. So every moment I spend with you now, I just choose to love you for who you are and how you are and where you are today. I expect nothing of you, and I'm grateful for the friendship you still offer.

So what to do? What to say? What to be? What to offer?

I've come to the conclusion all I have is my time and my presence. A listening ear on the other side of a text, an encouraging smile, a sympathetic touch, a supportive hug, a person to look into your eyes, see and acknowledge your pain and choose to stay. To stay for one more minute, one more hour, one more conversation, be one more distraction. 

I choose to believe for you when you can't. To believe you will one day find joy again. To dream of bright futures full of happy memories for you. To believe you still have great and mighty purposes to accomplish and fulfill on this earth. To believe that a future and a hope are still yours for the living. To petition the throne room of our Lord on your behalf, begging Him to hold you, comfort you, be Enough for you, for today, for this moment.

I offer you my presence in this hardest of battles to endure. I will stand beside you and hold up your arms when you're too weak to hold them up any longer. I will stand in the gap in prayer for you and your family, consistently, and persistently. I won't give up on you. I won't run or back down or grow weary in just being there.

I will cry for you. Tears in private I will not burden you with, but tears on your behalf nonetheless. And I like to believe that maybe every tear I've shed on your behalf is one less tear you've had to shed yourself. I'd like to think it works that way. That my highly emotional, overly sensitive self is being used in some way behind the veil in the kingdom of God to lighten your burden. That my ability to cry so easily is somehow a gift from God to relieve the burdens of others. I don't know, but maybe. I like to think so.

And this is all I have to offer. An unconditional presence with no strings attached, no expectations, just maybe a little grace on the days the sadness of your sadness weighs extra heavy. That's all. I wish it was more. I wish I could guarantee that would be enough. But you and I both know, Jesus is the only One who can be and will be Enough to carry you through. If my only purpose is to remind you of that every now and again, then I'm content.

This grief is not your whole story, my friend. It's not. I don't believe that. It may be the backdrop, the scenery, the background music to your story--all deeply meaningful, beautiful, and unforgettable--but not the whole story. I wish I could tell you when the joy will return. I wish I could shield you from the waves of grief that will continue to crash. Instead, I pray you let me swim in the storm with you because I will and be a small part to play in encouraging your story to continue because I can.

You are not defined by this grief. You are a child of God defined by Jesus Himself, His own dearly, preciously loved possession. Never forget that's who you truly are.

You are my friend. And I am blessed to know you, to journey with you. Given the choice, even knowing what was to come, I'd be your friend all over again. I can do nothing to remove your pain, to lessen your sorrow, but I can be someone who's here, who sees you right where you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I can choose to be here and show up and pray up.

That's all have to offer. To God be the glory if it's enough.
In Christ,
Your Friend

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