I Can't Always Relate - But I Can Always Love
Despite always having close friends, I had never experienced community like what I now share with the members of our church small group (aka the people writing this blog). We laugh together, cry together, have deep discussions, and depend on each other in big and small ways. I'm not exaggerating when I say that if I walk away from my phone for any period of time, I will come back to DOZENS of emails from our HomeGirls thread. And if I'm being honest, I almost always keep it on "Do Not Disturb" otherwise, my phone would be buzzing incessantly.
These friendships bring me so much joy, and for the first few years of our group, they were so easy to build and maintain. But what do you do when your community is hurting? When the people you love deeply are experiencing things that are so beyond your comfort zone you don’t even know how to respond?
If you've read any of our previous blogs, or even looked at the categories at the top of this page, you've gathered that pretty much everyone in our group has entered into the "baby-zone." I, however, have zero experience with fertility, infertility, pregnancy, loss, etc. I am just not quite there yet (which is perfectly okay - another post on this in the future). Due to my inexperience with these things, I often feel at a complete loss for words when my friends are faced with some of life’s most difficult moments. Does anyone else ever feel this way?
Growing up, I lived in a bubble. I never really faced much suffering, loss, or heartache. Don't get me wrong. I am so thankful that I had a safe, easy childhood, however, now that I am getting older (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22..) I just wish I had a little more experience/perspective than that naïve 10-year-old-self did. I am realizing that I don’t know how to respond to some of these difficult things that I don’t know much about. But thankfully, this incredible community is so full of grace.
I'm in the process of learning how to care for my friends during their difficult times. I've learned that the first step is just listening to the stories of these and other friends. During a friend's most trying time, it is SO important to simply show up and be there. I've also learned from experience, that saying something is always better than saying nothing. So that's what I do now. I say something, anything to let my people know that I am there for them. I say something, anything to let them know that I care - to let them know that I am praying for them.
Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. But I am learning. I know now to send a text message asking them how they are doing during this treacherous time. I know now to give them a big, squeezy hug that lasts just a moment too long (mainly because I love hugs). There's still a lot that I don't know, but I'm learning how to be a good friend during times of need.