Someone once gave me simple advice, and it has changed the way I interact with hurting friends.
When a friend is crying, let them cry. Society is often so quick to hand a tissue that, without meaning to, we rush the process. Hurting people may inadvertently feel the need to “Hush, hush, there, there, don’t cry, don’t make a fuss..”
Metaphorically, it’s a run-on-sentence that feels like… Sweep the dirt back under the rug, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, deal and keep dealing, encourage yourself, be Wonder Woman. God won’t give you more than you can handle, so handle it and let’s go on… Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Sometimes, we just need a minute. White flag surrender. Sometimes, it’s not okay. And we don’t want to be told that it’s going to be okay.
Sometimes, we don’t want encouraged, we just want to be.
(This is not enabling permanent misery and not a passionate commitment to being totally pitiful forever… no. Just permission to be weak for a moment, raw for a moment, sad for a moment… and to just to be human.)
As an insightful friend, we need to be aware of our relationships. We can be sensitive about the timing of when to push, pull, or sit.
There are days, most days, when I can gently push my friends. In a good, positive encouraging, Godly way… I am coming alongside them and cheering them on. A gentle push to grow, be more, believe for more, choose joy, dream big, expect good things, push past the negative and love when it matters. I push for forgiveness and reconciliation, I push for crazy prayer requests, I push them towards the Word and worship and push to build community! You know what I mean, you are that friend too!
Then, there are also days when we “pull” our friends. When their choices are taking them further than they want to go, and we gently pull them back to their roots. We speak the truth in love. Somedays, we reach down and stoop. When they are low, we try to pull them up. On days when a push might send them over the edge, a pull feels more meaningful. A pull means you are available to lend a hand, clean a messy house, throw a rope or hand them a sledgehammer. It means we will pray or speak the Word to help them out of a pit. When friends are really down, it’s a loving pull that will lift them up.
There are rare days when you can feel what it’s needed… the sit. Your bestie doesn’t need a push or a pull, she just needs you to be near. No words, no rush. (Maybe bring coffee and comfy clothes.) In reality, many of our schedules don’t even permit this type of availability. For rare occasions and the best of friends, please consider that sometimes a text just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes we just really need to show up for each other. Make a sacrifice and make it happen. However, no guilt. I have not even begun to master this. I am just become more aware and sharing as I learn.
Even if you aren’t able to physically “sit” beside each other, the idea that we can create emotional space to let people breath is meaningful. It is true.
Let’s consider Job. After hearing of all the significant loss and hardship that he had endured, three of his friends decided to come see him. They were inconvenienced, they sacrificed, they traveled from different countries to come see him. When they arrived, Job was almost unrecognizable. His suffering was so great. It broke their hearts. They wept, tore their clothes, and they sat. The friends just simply stayed beside him, speechless, for 7 days. (Job 2:11-13)
Read this as a willing friend who is aware and gracious, or apply this through the perspective of a hurting person who needs to give themslves permission to sit. You have permission to take a moment and be human. Jesus was human, he gets it.
Tomorrow we will get up, fix our attitude, fix our makeup and fix dinner. Tomorrow we will pick up our sword and redeclare our determination to relentlessly fight. Tomorrow we will step towards victory!…. But today, today we sit. It’s okay to use your shield of Faith as a shield to create some shade and rest under. Faith covers that. Don’t hurry. Rest and lean on the shoulder of your quiet friend who came to sit.
Be a friend who sits.
A strong friend will always push and pull, but a wise and compassionate friend is willing to patiently sit.