I’ve been working on this post for weeks, my heart softening and turning. These words I type are the proclamation of the work being done inside me.
You need to know. Here it is:
I understand now. I get it, finally. Not just with the words of my mouth but in my heart, I understand.
It took some time, away from the computer screen & people talking. Bathing in the silence of me, our friendship and all that has taken place in these last months. I curled up in the corner of the airport, my arms hugging tightly around my knees, watching the endless waves of people walk past me. It seems to be that often it takes going away from the place that you’ve always known, away from the town & people that have shaped you, to really understand some things.
We boarded that air plane, and I found my seat located right in the middle of two over-sized woman, squished between them to the point of restricted movement. There was no comfortable way to sleep and I neglected to bring my phone or any other form of entertainment, so I resorted to a long 5 hour stare down with the back of the seat in front of me.
Thinking, contemplating, wondering. My mind going over and over all the events & emotions of the last couple months.
And right there, in the middle of the plane, between the two ladies, tears rolled down my face. The strangled tears soon turned to sobs, luckily my hysterical state was unbeknownst to the ladies beside me who were lost in their own world of sleep and ear-bud music. All this because I saw how much I had hurt you. & I realized how much I have hurt others. The realization physically ached, twisting my inside heart chords together. I never knew that little ol’me had the power to actually hurt people, I had thought who am I that my actions & words really affect people? But with so much distance between me and God, mingled with harboured judgements and bitterness, clouded by selfishness- I neglected the people that I should have been loving most dearly.
And the story goes like this, what will become part of our story- In your time of utmost hard & struggle, (Esther’s For Such a Time as Time), I abandoned you. Instead of care, I showed a disregard to you and what you were going through. Instead of praying for you, I resisted all conversation with God. Instead of wading through the silence with you, I rushed to fill the space with selfish words.
You must know the regret that I have. How I wish I could have been your “hero” during that time. The person who loved you & encouraged you & when glancing back you’d say, I don’t think I would have survived that without you.
But more than anything, it’s very humbling to realize that I was undoubtedly not that person. I was no hero, no great friend, no glamorous Christian. And the thing is, I could never be there for you completely if I am not doing it through the wisdom & patience & love of Christ. Without a constant returning to His word, clinging to feeble words offered in prayer and seeking His face always, how can we ever love people right?
You asked me if I thought my careless attitude was a result of the status of my faith during that time, and I dismissed the question: as if my neglect was rooted in that, as if that was the problem. Oh but you were so right. I was frustrated with God, I hardly wanted anything to do with prayer and that red-leather book- and as a result my heart was cold & careless, caught up in wanting to have fun & enjoy the moments. Hard hearts never accomplish marvellous things.
I have come to see that compassion is not one of my top 5 shining qualities. Goodness, I don’t think it would even make the top 10. I wish, and I have prayed many times, Lord grant me compassion. Let me see the struggle & the hurt and be compelled to to move. Let me be compelled to care, and feel their pain like its my own. When your best friend’s dad dies, you don’t offer words of judgement & malice. You don’t talk their ear off about your petty problems, while their eyes sit before you vacant of joy. Their green colour, starving for hope, desperate for answers.
All our jagged words exchanged. The conversations where we cracked our hearts open and exposed ourselves raw and real. Admissions of hurt and mistakes came tumbling out. Emotions got in the way of handling our words with care and love, instead malice and bitterness coated our words.
I know it’s not enough to say I’m sorry but it’s something. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed someone. I’m sorry I’ve judged you. I’m sorry I’ve treated you with contempt.
But I hope you remember these words: Brothers (and sisters) they may fight, but brothers (and sisters), they work it out.
And we have fought to redeem our friendship. And God has shown us His grace and we are stronger because of all this messiness of the last couple months.
I have learned that when someone you love is in the middle of a hurricane, what you do is: you stay. You pray. You care. You ask. You listen. You love them no matter what.
In the end, it is not about being a hero or receiving praise because you are *the world’s greatest friend.* It’s about being there, 100% committed to exemplifying that quiet love. The knock, your friend answers the door confused because you didn’t call before coming. You offer a hug and step in the door with a box of chocolate in one hand and a movie in the other. The answering of the phone at quarter past 12:00, just because they need a listening ear and someone who cares. The prayers you whisper before bed, begging God to bring healing and grant comfort to your friend. The hours spent searching the bible, attempting to learn how best to love a friend who is wading through grief.
It’s all about the small things. The gentle, patient actions of intentional care and love. It’s doing the things that manifest the love of Christ, even if other’s don’t see it, you still do them because God has given us a call to love. To stick with our brothers and sisters through thick and thin, because joy and friendship is worth fighting for.
I really hope you read this because I wrote it for you. It is what I have learned, and foremost, it is an apology in how I know how to do it best, in words pieced together on a screen.