11:00 am, Saturday morning.
By 10:00 pm this evening, I will be in Iowa, to sit with a dear friend.
My heart is breaking today for my friend, and for her family. Deeply breaking.
My to-do list is long–it all has to be accomplished before I leave at 2:00 this afternoon. But here I sit, in a semi-paralyzed state of mind. All around me are things I need to get accomplished, but I just can’t seem to get motivated to do them. But it would probably be wise to find some clean clothes, at least, to throw into my suitcase.
I just want to get there.
I don’t have any words to say. Nothing can take away this pain. I love words. Words are crazy important to me. But they fall so short in times of real grief. There is nothing that can be said.
But I can be there. And that is a privilege and an honor and a gift that I do not take lightly.
Earlier this week, I read a blog post by Russell Moore, talking about the influence Tom Nettles (who retired from Southern Seminary this week) had on his life. Particularly during a time of grief. Here’s what he had to say:
Tom and Margaret Nettles were the first to our house. He didn’t exegete the Book of Job, or reiterate his lecture notes on the sovereignty of God and personal suffering. He sat with us, in silence, for a long time. He wept with us, and prayed with us.
“He sat with us, in silence, for a long time.”
That sentence, right there, got me.
Do you know why? Because I have known deep suffering. The kind where there aren’t any words that can be said. Except “I’m sorry”. But even “I’m sorry” can be almost too much to bear at the time.
But I have had friends who have sat with me in silence. And not for just a short while, but for a long time. No words passed between us–because there were no words to say. I have had friends weep with me. And I have had friends weep for me, when I had no tears myself.
When memories of those very hard days come rushing back, (because, sometimes they do, in spite of doing all I can to hold them at bay-to keep them away) what I remember most keenly is the power of presence. The comfort of knowing someone knows. The settled-ness of sitting in a place that is safe. A place that, if there are words to be spoken, it is ok. And if there aren’t words to be spoken, that’s ok, too. And if there are tears to be shed, that’s ok, too.
Grief is a strange thing. It’s a lonely thing. No one really understands the impact grief has on another person’s soul.
But I am overwhelmed once again with comfort and gratefulness when I remember those who have sat with me in my grief. That comfort; that peace, to this very day, gives me a strength that I know I would not possess had I not been given that gift.
My heart is so heavy today. It is breaking for my friend, for her family. And, really, for so many friends that I know who are struggling. Who are hurting. Illnesses, difficulties in marriage, heartaches in parenting, grief over losing loved ones. My heart especially breaks for those of my friends who grieve without hope.
I know hope, but I haven’t always known it. I know what it is like to grieve without hope. And I also know that I would not be standing today if it were not for hope.
I don’t know what the next 5 days hold. I do know that I have been given a gift–the gift of being allowed to sit with my friend and her family during this time. It is a gift. A privilege, an honor that I do not take lightly. And, when you are given the gift of being allowed to hear someone’s story, of being given the gift of time to sit in silence or to weep with someone, I urge you to not take it lightly. Because it is not lightly given. I know.