Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Friends Who Come to Carry You

by Lisa Appelo

I sat at the stoplight, with the back of my car filled with flower arrangements and my mind turning with thoughts and emotions. The week prior had brought cataclysmic change, and my mind was on overdrive trying to process all of it.

My thoughts drifted to the Bible story of four friends who placed their paralyzed companion on a mat and carried him to the feet of Jesus {See Luke 5:17-26}. I’e always been the one helping, bringing a casserole. But now? I needed such healing. And in our deep hurt, our friends had come alongside us, carrying us.

Less than a week before, my husband had died completely unexpectedly. We had gone to bed like every other night for 26 years, but in the wee hours of the morning, I awoke to Dan’s heavy breathing. Thinking it was a nightmare, I nudged his arm gently. “It’s okay, hon. It’s just a nightmare.”

A few minutes later, more awake, I realized this was not nightmare breathing. I flipped on the light and could see instantly that something was very wrong.

We started CPR immediately; the paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital. But Dan never recovered. I came back home, still very early in the morning, to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done — tell our seven children their dad had died.

Moments after I got home, my front door opened without a knock. It was a dear friend and her husband, who having been wakened by a phone call about Dan, threw on clothes and come to be with us. They wept with us in shock and grief.

As we wept together and I tried to explain what had happened, my front door opened again. I looked up to see the first friend I met when our family moved here seven years earlier. We met when she bought some homeschool books I was selling online. We discovered we would soon be neighbors in this big city, and she invited us to her church once we got to town. That church became our church and we’d been raising kids together ever since.

That morning, as my children and I struggled with the pain and grief of such sudden loss, our front door opened again and again and again.

Friends heard and came. Food piled around my dining room table, paper goods and boxes of tissue were set out, coolers packed with drinks lined the dining room. And a band of women, including my sweet sister, worked steadily in the kitchen.

And it wasn’t just the grownups who came to be with us.

As I rested in my room that afternoon, some friends came to get me. “You need to hear this,” they said. I walked into our family room and listened to guitars and teen voices singing praise songs from upstairs in the kids’ rooms.

My children’s friends — in probably a completely unfamiliar experience — had come to grieve with us and be with us.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, Paul tells the body of Christ in Romans 12:15.

What do you say to someone who went to bed married and woke up a widow? How do you fix the hurt for a 17-year-old who will never have her dad move her into her first dorm or walk her down the aisle? What about boys coming of age?

Well, friends can’t fix it. They’re not meant to. Only God can heal those gaping wounds.

But when life shatters with pain, friends can give a soft landing.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” {Romans 12:10}
Friends are not there to fix the hurt. I cannot take away the pain and suffering of others. That is for God. But I can carry them in the hurt.

I can pray for them. And listen to their heart. I can tell my friends I love them and weep with them and just be there with them.

Lisa is a recent widow and now single mama to seven, writing all the crazy good lessons God is teaching at True and Faithful.

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