Another good man is dying in great pain tonight, while his loyal wife loves by his side.
She’s reached out multiple times to our prayer text chat.
I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me. We’ve never met.
A friend of a friend, desperate to try to help me through the tasks set before me, asked if I’d like to receive encouraging bible verses.
She sends them via group text every morning. I said sure.
I know she spends time, prayer and meditation on what verses to share each day and I find them pleasant. And I deeply respect and appreciate her efforts to show comfort to others.
More recently there have been extra requests for prayers, as this man’s cancer battle is ending.
The texts are brief, but potent with pain.
It hits my heart and I soul-search on what I can say that isn’t trite, or cliché, or preachy, or meaningless? Or that doesn’t send me into a tailspin of anxiety myself.
After all, I know better than most what she’s going through.
I know she feels hopeless and I’m not sure I can give her any. But I’ve found more than anything, the gift of witness is something powerful.
I no longer need someone to tell me things are going to be ok. They aren’t. They won’t be. I’ve survived more than most people can imagine and I’m quite aware that life goes on, whether I want it to or not.
But acknowledgement. Compassion. Witness. Those are powerful supports when the worst has/is happening.
I can’t stop the raging sand storm, but someone please pull out your camera and acknowledge that the storm exists. That my hair is a fantastic wreck. I really did see Big Foot.
“Ah, this is nothing. You’re too strong to let this get you.”
This stranger isn’t the only one. At least 3 of John’s and my friends are fighting for their lives against terminal cancer right now.
I don’t know what’s happening to gen-x, but deep sadness pervades our circles.
Encouragement has been a lifeline for me, and I very much want to provide encouragement for others as well.
I know how life saving it can actually be.
I also understand how hard it can be for others to figure out what to say.
No one has been trained for these things with the modern eye and understanding. No one wants to hurt me. No one wants to be afraid or feel these things or contemplate the possibilities that they might ever endure something similar to what they see when they glance my way.
Even in understanding all these pieces, sometimes words fail me when I want to encourage others.
Perhaps because I’ve already processed too much data for the day, and my words don’t want to work anymore.
And sometimes I wish I could just reach out and hold somebody’s hand, or hug them, or cry with them to show them I care and they’re not alone. Our experiences may be different, but there’s a fraternal understanding of the nuances of trauma, grief, disease, tragedy and loss. Something I’ve come to recognize with honor.
We try too hard to do everything right, that we are willing to freeze our souls just so we don’t make a mistake. We feel compassion, but we’re afraid to show it, or speak. We’re afraid to risk, so we bury the talent we’ve been given, to make sure we don’t judge or cause harm to others.
But risk is in the very air we breathe. We cannot escape it.
Nothing which has changed the world for the better has ever come at less than the price of risk.
So much of the time we stop telling people the things we feel. Messages never said, thoughts never spoken. We should all write more “letters” in the world.
If we never held back on communicating the love and encouragement we feel, I wonder how would that change the world?
Maybe it doesn’t change the world. Maybe it only changes one moment. But even that solitary seed has to count, right?
I keep reminding myself that there is No Fear In Love.
Every small nudge of encouragement, even a simple “thinking of you” is helpful; like a palm at my elbow, helping me find balance when I’m dizzy. Like a whisper on the wind; God’s reassurance working through others.
But then there are the insightful and creative responses too. And they do more than steady me.
They deliver a bit of Life essence, something I have given out so much of and need to replenish. If given in love and honesty, they’re more than whispers – they’re God breezes and life-saving Light.
I’m not the only person in the world to go through awful things. So I feel it’s only right to learn from these gifts and seed it back out to my world.
I realize it’s an assumption that others experience this as I do. But it feels like Truth. And I want to be better and more generous with my love and words.
I don’t understand God’s plan for us, but I’m convinced that if we’ll allow it, He’ll use us to transmute these things.
I have long thought of tribulations in Life as a series of Whys, that if we consciously work with the Divine, will turn into Wows.
I haven’t found my big wow yet, but I look forward to discovering it someday.
And I hope you find yours too.