These days I have decided to just Show Up. In the midst of my own little world, weekly it seems that something else has gone awry, is frizzling alway, has turned upside down. It can be as simple as the stomach flu infecting a friend’s sweet family or as complicated as a best friend whose baby is entering ICU. What I am coming to realize, what has started playing out in my own life, is that necessity of not having the right answers, and the perfectly wrapped words, but the need to enter into the story, love through the brokenness, and be present in the pain.
Right after I miscarried, when I wanted to stay Lost In Laguna Forever, what is clearest to me in hindsight was not the need for someone to have necessarily walked through the same circumstance but the desire for someone to just show up and stay with me.
Even though I didn’t always answer the door, even though I didn’t call back, text back, email back, each and every time someone dropped in, dropped by or dropped off, it was a sign that I was going to survive. Each and every person became a signature that stayed imprinted on my heart that presence over passing on entering into my pain was going to be the key that helped me walk through the grief.
When my brother battled a long couple years of the cycle of addiction and relapse, and when death was literally knocking down the door, it wasn’t about a friend needing to understand everything about the disease, it was about the friend who showed up literally, offered to hold my hand, and be with me.
I think for so long in my life, as things went well, I thought if I reached out and touched any type of pain, or held the grief of others in my grip, it would infect my perfect little family. It would somehow manifest itself into our lives and seep through our situations too. That touching the sickness or entering into their mess would make me messy too.
And for so long, in so many tragedies and in so much sadness, I kind of did what I do when watching a scary movie. I kept my eyes open just enough to get most of the story, but stopped when I saw the guts and gore. And, I liked keeping it that way. Keeping the hard stuff as far away as possible.
But, when my life started getting bumpy, and some sad stuff hit my door, my heart started softening to the stories. Grief in my own life was the bridge to entering into others pain. It took the “you-know-what” happening in my own life own life, to be willing to enter into the hard stuff in others lives as well. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, grief is now apart of my story, and I am now more willing to enter into it with others as well.
The funny thing I have learned, that I am continuing to be surprised by, is where I thought pain would make me vulnerable to catching what was contagious, has actually brought about the direct opposite. Entering into each others stories, is healing and bringing health to my heart and in our home.
Showing Up, doing the work of entering in, brings surprise of all surprises: Joy. Sure its messy, sure its going to affect your heart, make you cry, and challenge you to stick it out. But, here I am, sure on this promise that adversity builds character, character builds hope, and hope does not put us to shame.
Because God’s great love has been poured out into our hearts, we get the privilege of showing up. We get the honor, we get the beautiful battle scars of being strong when our friends are weak. We get to be community to one another, to give the gift of courage in the midst of chaos, bring cookies, and cocktails, cards, and candles, and conversation. We become hands and feet, and in the process lean in learn the value, and the valor in just showing up.