Friday, December 10, 2010
People I Can Tell "the Sad" To...
I was sitting at one of the tables with a dear, dear friend. I've known her for a long time. But I've come to love her even so much more in the last year as we've went through some of the same struggles together.
People all around us were chattering, laughing, catching up with old friends, meeting new ones. Both my friend and I knew quite a few of the people milling about the room. So, we leaned close and she lowered her voice. She was telling me about her day, her week.. the real one. Not the, "Oh, I'm fine" one. It had been emotional, draining, exhausting. Things had happened at work. Almost the same thing that had happened to me two years ago at my work. The medical field is hard... sometimes hard things happen. Then she'd seen someone she had loved and lost. It was awkward. It was hard, she explained. I nodded. Totally understand the feeling of tears welling up, things you wanted to say and yet didn't or couldn't, biting your lip, leaving... wishing that somehow that chapter of your life could have gone on, wishing you could forget it, wishing it wasn't, wishing it still was... Suddenly, I was lost in her world, feeling the pain of what had happened at work, what had happened at the Christmas party...
She apologized for only having negative things to talk about. "But that was your life this week," I insisted. "I wanted to hear about your real life... what's really happening! I didn't want to hear about the pretend life where everything is fine with you."
She might have thought it was depressing, but it reminded me that someone else walking the road of life has had the same experiences as I have. And if I told her about what happened to me at work two years ago, she'd really, truly understand. She'd grasp the enormity with which it left me reeling and unsure of myself for a long time.... I loved just knowing that somebody in the world would understand if I explained. Maybe I'll tell her about it someday. There's not many other people that would know what to say.
The other day one of my friends sent me a email, telling me her problems and how everything in her life seemed to be falling apart right now. How to hold it together, how to go on being a Christian, being a wife, being a mom, doing the additional things that she and her husband are sure God has called them to do, being so much else that she is.... that was the big, unanswered question. How? It wasn't working for her. She couldn't go on living this way. She was feeling suffocated and like few people even cared if it happened to her. She ended her message with, "I'm sorry this is all sad. But thanks for being a real friend that I can tell the sad to... I don't tell many people."
I've had plenty of the "the sad" this year. In several completely different areas of life. I can relate to the "I don't tell many people." Who is there to tell? About some of it ~ sure. But other things few people can relate to or need to know.
I certainly don't want to depress the rest of the world with the sad. Who wants to know while they're in labor or nursing their 3 day old baby that their midwife's life has been awful this week? Or sweet little girls that come up to me after church and hug me and ask me how I am... Of course I'm "doing good" ~ because God is always good. Is there any reason to try to explain to them why I tried not to cry through church, even though I almost never cry... before this year? I can smile. I will smile. I will go on living life and being grateful, because there are far more things to be happy about than there are things to be sad about.
Then there were other friends that I tried to explain some of "the sad" to, and the responses I received felt anything but compassionate or understanding. Sometimes that was good for me... to remember that regardless of how I feel or who has any idea of what "I need" or what a wreck my heart may be at that moment, my actions and responses must be out of love, not ungrateful reactions because all I was seeking was to have my own needs met.
And then there was the friend who said, "Let's go to the park. I'll bring a whole box of Kleenex and let's just sit there all afternoon. You can tell me the whole story."
Or the friend who texted me nearly every day for months on end to say, "How's your heart today, Mary?" and sent me cards. I knew she hurt with me. Because she was hurting in the same way herself. And I got to text her every day, too, and say, "How's yours? God is still good!"
And the midwife who I didn't know even knew what all was going on in my life and family who handed me a little envelope one day after a midwives meeting. When I had a chance to open it and look at the little piece of folded paper, torn out of one of her notebooks, it read, "Mary, it's well past 2 am, and I just can't stop thinking of you... I have no idea why your life had to hurt so much in so many ways this year. But I love you, and I cry for you and I pray for you..." I had no idea she even knew all of it. She must have known more than I thought she did. I cried and stuck the little note in my purse. And I found it the other day and stared at it with tears welling up in my eyes all over again to know that she knew and she cared.
And today. I stumbled across someone's Picasa album of photos online. I spent way too long looking, and remembering. Thinking about it consumed the rest of my day. 'Twas one of those things that very few people would understand. But God does.
And I talked to my little sister and she told me about her own heartaches while she washed dishes and I made cinnamon rolls tonight.
Cinnamon rolls because tomorrow another sister is coming over for brunch. Because tomorrow (well, I guess today now... I'm typing this well after midnight) was the due date for the first niece and grandchild in the family. A due date for a little girl who was already born months ago. All the traces left are the little metal marker pushed into the pile of clay and sod at the graveyard down the road and a few blankets and clothes we dressed her in after she was gone. Christine. She would have been being born, a chubby 7 or 8 pounds right about now. Our baby girl, just in time for Christmas. But she came in August. We're glad she came at all. We're glad Josh and Jemima had a little girl and that she still lives... in heaven!
And I think about my friend's email, "I don't tell many people the sad. Thanks for listening." I haven't had a chance to reply yet. But I'm glad she can tell me the sad. Because I do feel for her, and I pray for her.
And I'm glad I have a few friends who I can tell the sad to, who don't try to make it all better. They just put their arm around me and sit there with me.
And I'm glad I have sisters who say, "I'm glad we can talk to each other, even if nobody outside of our family would even understand this."
And I'm glad I have a mother who senses when I come home from a long day of prenatals with so much more than prenatals on my mind and says, "I found this verse today that I thought was just for you: 'O the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowlege of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out.' " (Romans 11:33) Yes, Mama... You're right. God is wise, and He's always right. I can trust Him.
And I'm glad I have a dad who calls me when I have a long drive home just to see if I'm staying awake and to say, "Drive safe! I love you!"
And I'm glad I have a brother who's had his own share of struggles this year who comes home once in awhile and says, "I know it's midnight, but ya wanna walk a few miles and talk?"
And I'm glad for the other people in my life who care and hurt and pray with me. And people who love me enough to tell me when my responses to what life brings aren't Christ-like.
Most of all, I'm glad that Jesus knows and interceeds on my behalf before the Throne of Grace. Somedays even the nicest and best people in the world don't understand or they don't know and it wouldn't be right to burden their day with my heartaches.
But God wants to hear them from me. Psalms is mostly the troubled heart of David being poured out honestly before God - exalting God rightfully, but not hiding his hurt and confusion and longings.
It's not like God doesn't already know every thought on my mind. It's just that He wants ME to remember that HE is the Source of my life and HE is the reason I get up and go on and again and again and HE is bright Hope for the future! He waits for me to come tell Him about my joys and sorrows.
He delights to show me that He loves me by sending little boys with smushed fistfuls of weeds to my car with adoring little sisters by their sides who say, "Miss Mary, you look lobely today!" when I show up to do a home prenatal visit.
Or when I catch a snatch of the song my sister is singing at the kitchen sink: "ALL I have needed, Thy Hand hath provided... GREAT is Thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto ME!!" Or when I dig through my pile of mail (bills) and discover a card from a dear friend telling me she's praying for me.