My phone rang late one evening. Seeing it was my young friend, I answered with a smile in my voice “Good evening, Bridgett.” (not her real name.)
A small voice, said “Do you have time to talk?”
Hearing “Of course,” the small voice became even smaller as the “little girl” inside my very grown up friend, said. “Oh, that is so sweet.”
She began to talk, sometimes her words tumbling out, sometimes coming more slowly, interspersed with pauses accompanied by a few deep sighs, while I waited, or murmured an occasional – “That was so hard, wasn’t it?” “I’m so sorry.”
I longed for words to make it better, some sort of solution, because she is my friend and I want her to be happy. It is also true, I wanted me to feel better. I was sad and sorry to hear of the relational pain she experienced. What was to have been a family celebration for a beloved brother’s birthday became marred by the dysfunction of those present.
Listening, I honored her words and her silences. I have learned the better answer when someone is in pain is no answer. My friend and I already know Jesus has us. Every day. Always. I can’t tell her it will be fine, because sometimes things are not fine. Some things will not be fine this side of heaven. We can’t know. It’s a hard place to be. It’s what we call the faith-life.
Sometimes I simply need to be heard, to have my pain/sorrow/anger/frustration acknowledged, by someone who understands the process of healing includes me feeling my pain, but not feeling it alone. Having someone sit with me in my pain is hard and necessary for my healing.
I still find it hard to sit with another’s the pain and not offer advice. I’m still learning. Occasionally, I give into the temptation to fix when it’s not mine to fix, no one is asking, and I couldn’t fix it if I tried. It never works. Yes, there are times when advice is being sought and we get to give it. My dad always said though, “There is nothing worse than unasked for advice.” I am also pretty sure, until we learn to be with our own pain, we will be no good at sitting with others in their pain. That’s another topic , for another time.
And my friend? As she shared her grief and pain, gradually I heard the hurt little girl, become a strong, confident adult. She knows she cannot fix it. She can love. That she can do. She can pray and entrust them to Jesus. She said she felt better. And I didn’t do a thing but be with her in it.
Here is something I wrote recently in my journal . . . . .
I bare my heart
and you want to
fix it, offer
You hope I’ll feel
better. And if the
fix, your solution, works
you’ll feel better.
Choose instead to be
with me, not
fix my pain.
No words needed.
I didn’t ask you to.
When a call for help comes, it’s OK to keep our tools handy, in case they are needed or our advice is asked. But maybe, just maybe, once you get there, you’ll find being with your person can be “sweet” indeed.
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