Today I sent a message to a friend.
How are you?
She’s in a hard place. She’s going through treatment for cancer and it’s knocked her down hard. She’s brave and strong and filled with faith, but her body doesn’t feel strong at all.
It made me think of a time nearly 25 years ago when I took my kids to the park. Natural rock stairs clambered up a steep hill to a lookout point.
I had climbed those rocks a hundred times.
At that time I was in treatment for breast cancer and I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I was the same person on the inside but my outside didn’t look anything like me. Neither did my once-strong self.
I stepped on those rocks and started climbing, realizing quickly I was going nowhere fast. I couldn’t breathe. I was exhausted, but I pushed on.
I could DO this.
No I couldn’t.
While my young children raced up the hill, shouts of “come on, mom” in my ears, I sat on the rock and wept.
I had lost me.
Today as I thought about that story, I sent a second message to my friend: “I wish someone had told my younger self that one day I’d race up those rocks. That I’d be me again. You’ll be “you” again, too. Hang tight, sis. Just hang tight. I’m praying for you.”
Later, she wrote this:
Today I’ve been thinking about the loneliness of suffering, and how rare it is to find the friend who can speak into it with a depth of empathy and tenderness. In fact, only those who have experienced deep loss and suffering themselves can even come close.
And then your email came. And I almost burst into tears. You get it. Because you’ve been there. I’ve lost track of how many days I’ve cried because it seems this will never end, that I will never again feel like myself.
Thank you for stepping into my suffering today. A sweet gift.
Right now my friend doesn’t feel like enough, but together we can be.
This past week when my sweet guy was wheeled into surgery I felt like anything but enough, but people wrapped around me in that waiting room. Since then, people have brought food and sent cards and private messages. And do you know what I know now, more than ever:
We need each other. Good grief, how we need each other.
Just as I know I’ll be there for my friend, and as others have been there for me, there are a lot of people who don’t feel enough because they are doing it all alone.
Will you do me a favor?
Look around. Find that person who’s in a hard place and pushing on because that’s all she can do. I promise you’ll notice someone, then. . .
Bring her a meal.
Send her a card.
Pray for her.
Step into her suffering and let her know that you get it.
And if you don’t get it, just walk beside her in silence until she feels the “enough” rising up inside of her.
Our Savior took up our pain and became enough for us. Let’s become enough for each other in His name.