I have confessed several times in my previous blogs that I am kind of a lone ranger, and I don’t let a whole lot of people get to terribly close to me. Part of this is that I don’t like letting people know my emotions, but another part is I have this heart that cares so terribly deeply that their hurts literally become my hurts too. If I let somebody get to know me, then in turn, I get to know them and begin to care so deeply about them and their lives too. This is not to say that I do not care about the lives of my acquaintances, but with a person I call friend, that care intensifies so much.
There have been a few times in my life that I have let people slip past my tough exterior and have allowed to see my heart and yes, they have allowed me to see their heart too. I’m not good at friendship so many of you reading this are likely much more advanced than I am in this area. I’m friendly to many, but only call very few true friends.
The question I pose with this blog is that when your dearest friend in the entire world is hurting, anxious, sad…how do you not feel helpless? This has been the theme of my prayer for the last several months of my life. With my husband, who knows me best and is the closest person in my world it’s easy…we hurt together, we celebrate together, we go through life together. With my best friend, it’s different. Her child is not my child. Her reality is not my reality. Her pain is not my pain! Her joys are not my joys. However, that doesn’t mean that I can turn off my feelings and not let the things in her world affect me.
Our current situation leads me to this helpless feeling. (See, I say our, when the situation is really hers.) She has a son who is 9 months old and has a plethora of health issues. He was born with a genetic syndrome that has affected his growth, his development, and most seriously, his heart. He has had more appointments in his short life that most adults have had in their entire lives. Most of his appointments and doctoring is not able to be done in the town we live in so they have to travel to Mayo Clinics and Hospitals for most of his care…leaving for weeks at a time and having to say goodbye to their other two precious children. Currently they are preparing to depart for their son’s major heart surgery. Because they are not totally sure what the surgeon will be doing (they won’t know until he’s in surgery and the surgeon gets a look at the heart) they don’t know how long they will have to be gone. My heart silently breaks for them as I see their hearts visibly break!
Now, I want to offer some encouragement to those of us who feel helpless during our friend’s realities. We can offer the greatest gift to our friends in these struggles…PRAYER! I spend a lot of time offering them up to the Jesus, Mary, and the saints. I ask all kinds of strangers to pray for them. Whenever I feel helpless, the first place I go is to our almighty God who is NEVER helpless. He has the power to help all!
Second, I listen when/if she is ready or willing to share her feelings. I do not try to fix, but I listen to her pain and fears. I think so often people desire to fix situations and most, if not all of the time the situation is beyond our control. As I said earlier, her reality is not mine and so I have no idea what she is feeling…but I do have the gift of two ears I can lend when she is ready to share!
I can ask if there is anything I can do? If she allows me to do something, I better be ready to do whatever it is…even if she asks me to clean her house or cook her supper ?
Finally, the last thing I can do is NEVER compare her situation to mine. I do not know what she is feeling so to say, “I know what you’re going through!” is not helpful!!! We all have people in our lives who seem to one up us on our suffering…this is not helpful and it’s not useful. This is her life and her reality and no matter what she feels, it’s her feelings. She is going to deal with things differently than I would, even if we face the same situation. God created each person with unique feelings and emotions, we are not the same. We can offer empathy, but comparing is never helpful.
So friends, what I’m telling you is that, yes we may feel helpless, but let’s work on being helplessly devoted to our besties and do the little things we can to make a small difference in their worlds.
Afterthought: Please pray for my dear Xavier and for his family…his heart surgery is right around the corner!!!