Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to help a hurting friend?

Life is full of disappointments. Hurts. Sadness. Betrayal. Loss. At some time or another each of us has had to deal with this inevitable part of our human experience. Thankfully, most of us just have to deal with events in our life or seasons of our life that fit one of those descriptions. We hurt, we cry, we hide under the covers but somehow day by day it eventually starts to get a little better until one day we manage to smile again. And as tough as those times are it seems as though maybe more often in our lives we will be surrounded by others that we love and care about that are hurting.

I have a hurting friend right now and I don't know what to do. I want to help her. I want to take away the hurt that she feels everyday. She has been in a tough season for a very long time. Even more than wanting to make her feel better I want to make sure I don't make her hurt more. Let me explain that one . . . A few years ago I suffered a loss. There was only a small circle of people who knew what I was going through but even in that circle so many people said really hurtful things without meaning to. I decided that going through that situation was going to make me a better friend and, well, a better person because from that time on instead of babbling "nice" things to someone who was hurting or going through something I didn't understand I would simply say "I am so sorry. I will pray for you".

I'm so afraid that I'm being that babbling person that might be saying hurtful things to my friend. Where my theory failed me is that you can only say "I am so sorry. I will pray for you" so many times. I think it still works if it is an acute situation but unfortunately this had turned into a chronic situation. So I wonder - do I mention it? Maybe she wants a break from talking about it? If I don't mention it maybe she thinks I don't care? Am I doing something I don't even realize that is causing her pain? She has hurt so much I can't bear to think about me causing her more pain.

Eventually I come back around and realize that I "just" need to pray. But somehow that doesn't feel quite right. I mean, I need to DO something not "just" pray. At this point God is saying "Oh, Megan. I thought we'd come so far". I know, I know but the American, rugged individualist in me wants to DO something. Maybe I can make a meal, maybe I can plan a distraction of some sort or at the very least I can TELL her that I'm praying for her. The answer is so loud and clear. "No - only pray. Trust me. This is not about you and what you can do to help". In my heart I totally understand and embrace this it's just somewhere near where the rubber meets the road that I have trouble.

But for now I'm going to try to keep the right perspective and embrace what God is teaching me through this situation. Pray, pray, pray. That's it. It is sufficient. I see so clearly how God is touching so many people through my friend's journey. I am not excluded from that group. I want to be faithful to the lessons that God is teaching through them (her and her family) otherwise it would be somehow disrespectful to all the pain and frustration they have suffered through. I want to find every blessing in this situation and take it absolutely to heart.

There will be a rainbow at the end of this journey for her. We have such wonderful assurance of that. I know there are stormy days where it doesn't even seem possible that the sun will shine again. But I have confidence that it will shine again one day and I know that is going to be some rainbow!

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