This past Sunday my husband and I went for a walk with our daughter around the property. A storm was blowing in and we wanted to get some outside time in before it was no longer possible. The clouds came in faster than we had anticipated, and we were treated to quite the show by Mother Nature. The grass rippled in bright green waves, while the wind shook the trees, asserting its power and might. I stood there while my husband played with our daughter, looking up into the increasingly gray sky, the huge clouds billowing up before my eyes, and I felt small. I felt my humanity.
Lately I’ve been standing on the edge watching as some of my friends face storms in their lives. I can see the clouds rolling in, feel the cold in the air, and I’m powerless to stop it. I want to pick them up and run. Run so fast we outrun the downpour, the cold, everything. But I can’t. There have been moments when I’ve cried when they weren’t looking, and smiled when they were. I’ve prayed for them, for their families, and quite frankly for myself. For my own brokenness in my love for them, and my feelings of inadequacy as I try to support them and love them the way they need to be loved right now. It feels selfish to admit pain when you aren’t the one going through it, but it’s there. It’s hard to feel powerless, to know that there is literally nothing you can do to fix this. But as one of them recently said to me, ‘God is going to show us how to navigate this.’ Because neither of us knows how to respond in a time like this. Nobody tells you how to prepare for things like a diagnosis.
Some people instinctively know the right thing to say. I am not one of those people. In fact, I’m so afraid I’ll say the exact wrong thing that I usually end up stammering out something moderately coherent, or reverting to my awkward standby of “well you look great!” Some people are fantastic at diving in with a plan, starting campaigns and organizing the delivery of meals. That has never been my forte. My gift, my outlet, is words, but they seem so hollow and empty in times like these. I ache to show up and do something.
As the storm begins to rage, I want to scurry around accomplishing things. Building a shelter, finding food, something, anything to make this easier. It feels wrong to sit still and wait on the sidelines while others take care of the important details, like maybe I’m not doing my part, not showing up for this friend. But maybe my job is simply to stand there. Stand there and hold an old, worn umbrella over their heads as the first drops start to fall. Maybe crack a joke or two in between thunder claps. Using humor to alleviate discomfort is kinda my jam.
Or maybe my job is doing small things. Maybe it’s taking a kid or two for a sleep over to give them a break; or showing up with no make up on and a chemo care package (it’s totally a thing), and sitting in their living room laughing together because neither of you wants to cry. Maybe my one main job is to just continue to be their friend in the way I always have been, with just a whole lot more prayer thrown in.
That’s a whole lot of maybes.
I wish this was the time that I busted out some wisdom and gave you the exact way to navigate through the storms in friendship, but truth is I have no freaking idea. It’s hard, and it sucks, and sometimes I just cry. I also Google a lot, which may not actually be helpful. The one conclusion I have come to in all of this, no matter what your job, you have to at least be willing to get wet right alongside them. To not shut down and try to protect yourself, but let it wash over you, let the wind whip your hair in your face and sting your skin. It’s going to hurt, but maybe by sharing some scars, you will come out the other side stronger together.
When we made it back to the house from our walk, I stood in the driveway and let the rain dampen my clothes. It was cold, but oddly refreshing. I still felt small, but instead of feeling alone in the vastness of the sky, I felt comforted that my God was the one controlling the chaos, taming the winds and the storm. My weakness does not diminish his might, but rather emphasizes it. My friend was right, He will show us how to navigate this, I need only be willing to get a little wet.
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.‘ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10