When someone we know is in pain, it’s often easy to do things for them. I’ve shared lots of practical ways to put your care into action on my blog. (You can find examples here and here.) But sometimes, when a person close to us is in pain, they need more than our physical acts of kindness. They need to know we’re willing to sit with them and just be.
As I prepare for the launch of my book Prayers of Hope for Caregivers in just over a month, I’m reminded that those who care for people in pain need our presence too. I’ve sat on both sides of the hospital bed and know firsthand the exhaustion of a weary body and parched soul.
In the midst of one of my hard seasons, a friend reached out and gave me a gift. Here’s what she did and how it changed my perspective…
During the birth of my son, I suffered internal injuries that sent me into long-term disability. I went in and out of surgeries every few months, forced to stay home alone while my son went to daycare. With my medical restrictions, I wasn’t allowed to be left alone with a growing baby.
It was a dark, dark time in my life. A new mom, trying to figure out my place in this world of motherhood…and I wasn’t able to experience a day-to-day rhythm with the one I delivered.
While it was a painful season, it was also the first time I discovered the beauty of being.
A Simple Phone Call
I’ll never forget the day one of the leaders from my church’s Mom’s Group called me. She said she wanted to come over and do housework or whatever else would be helpful. I glanced at my overflowing laundry hampers and told her I couldn’t start loads of laundry on my own.
That was all she needed to hear. She came over that day, and I sat embarrassed while she sorted through my family’s filthy clothes and treated stains. And yet, I was beyond grateful for her selflessness.
Once the first load had started, we headed downstairs to sit for a while. I don’t remember much about the conversation we shared, but I do remember there was something unrushed and peaceful about it.
I barely knew this woman (she would later become a dear friend and mentor), but at the time, her presence gave me freedom to be who I was, where I was, in the midst of my mess and ugliness.
She asked questions about my condition and let me talk. She asked about everyday stuff too and let me feel like a normal person, even though my world was anything but normal.
That was the first time I experienced the power of presence, and it forever changed my life.
How to Practice Being
It’s scary to step into someone else’s mess. Whether they’re facing a medical crisis or they’re worn down from caregiving, it’s hard to slow down our agenda or our need to fill in the blanks in conversation.
But what a gift you could give someone by learning how to simply be…and in turn, giving her permission to be who she is in her mess.
How do we practice this gift when it’s so countercultural to our rushed pace of life? How do we learn to sit silent rather than perpetuate the noise? How do we offer practical help but also create a haven of safety and acceptance?
It first starts in our own hearts.
It starts with me being willing to be alone—just me and my Savior, relishing the quiet moments He gives.
It starts with me being willing to come to Him in prayer, not with a limitless agenda but with a willingness to listen.
It starts with me soaking in the peace and truth found in His Word.
It starts with me learning to embrace the silence as not so awkward, but as a chance to bask in the presence of another.
As I relish and listen and soak and bask, the peace He gives will naturally pour out.
Those friends going through a hard time will no longer seem like a burden, task, or awkward question mark. Instead, they’ll be an opportunity to practice His presence in a deeper way, to extend His love and peace. To relish, listen, soak, and bask in whatever circumstances my friend is facing.
That’s what God calls us to. He longs to see us live in His presence and then share His love with everyone we meet.
May we use the hours of today to turn His intangible presence into tangible compassion. To pass along the beauty of being.